What Is Educational Technology (EdTech)?

EdTech uses digital technology to improve students' performance and facilitate learning. Learn about EdTech tools and how to use them effectively.

portrait of Marisa Upson
by Marisa Upson

Published on November 18, 2021 · Updated on May 5, 2022

Reviewed by Dr. Samantha Fecich

Our Review Network

BestColleges is committed to delivering content that is objective and accurate. We have built a network of industry professionals across healthcare and education to review our content and ensure we are providing the best information to our readers.

With their first-hand industry experience, our reviewers provide an extra step in our editing process. These experts:

  • Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
  • Provide specific, corrective feedback.
  • Identify critical information that writers may have missed.

Our growing Review Network currently consists of professionals in fields like business, nursing, social work, and other subject-specific industries; professionals in higher education areas such as college counseling and financial aid; and anti-bias reviewers.

Reviewers typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for BestColleges as a side project. Our reviewers are members of the Red Ventures Education Freelance Review Network and are paid for their contributions.

See a full list of our Review Network contributors.

Edited by Taylor Gadsden
Share this Article

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

What Is Educational Technology (EdTech)?
Image Credit: Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images


A survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics during the 2019-20 school year found that 49% of schools felt teachers wanted to use technology for teaching but only 18% were sufficiently trained in its use. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, schools closed, and education technology, or EdTech, became a lifeline.

An influx of education technology is creating new avenues of learning, enabling teachers to develop more personalized lesson plans, boost classroom participation, and connect with students worldwide. Many of the most in-demand education careers rely on EdTech, enabling teachers to use new strategies for teaching online and in the classroom.

What Is EdTech?

EdTech utilizes hardware, software, and other IT tools to increase engagement and help teachers prepare lesson plans, conduct online classes, and perform everyday tasks like grading and attendance. EdTech's uses increase almost daily and benefit teachers and students at the K-12 grade levels and those in higher education.

How Does EdTech Work?

Teachers and schools can integrate educational technology into a classroom in numerous ways. Educational software, or computer-assisted learning, enables teachers to customize lessons. It also shows tremendous opportunities to improve students' learning outcomes, especially in math. Gamifying problem-solving increases engagement and helps make learning fun.

Automated text message homework reminders can increase family involvement, and hybrid learning models that combine online and in-person instruction can create digital, accessible classrooms that students can access at any time. Teachers also use EdTech to help with routine tasks, like automated grading for objective assignments.

15 EdTech Terms to Know

  • Adaptive Learning: Adaptive learning — or custom learning — programs use software and artificial intelligence to create a personalized learning path for each student.
  • Asynchronous Learning: This learning format allows students to access pre-recorded lectures and assignments online, enabling self-paced learning from anywhere.
  • Blended Learning: Blended or hybrid learning combines online and in-person instruction. Students may view lectures or supplemental material online and use class time to complete exercises.
  • BYOD: This initialism stands for "bring your own device." As a school policy, it allows students to use their laptops, tablets, or smartphones in the classroom.
  • CMS: Content management systems allow users to create, publish, and share online content. These systems may provide online course delivery and gauge learning progress.
  • Differentiated Instruction: This responsive teaching method considers the unique characteristics of each student and designs curricula to accommodate these differences.
  • Digital Badge: Digital badges are awarded to students for their learned skills, positive qualities, or achievements. Companies like IBM and Google also offer digital badges, which indicate that an individual has completed a certain course or training program.
  • Distance Education: Distance learning enables students to receive instruction via online classes, video recordings and conferencing, and other technology.
  • Flipped Learning: In a flipped classroom, students watch lectures and other presentations online before class and then spend time at school collaborating with peers and working with teachers.
  • Instructional Technology: Instructional tech creates effective and engaging learning experiences through software, hardware, and other digital tools.
  • LMS: Learning management systems are software applications that track students' progress and deliver learning materials, including textbooks, assignments, and online quizzes.
  • MOOC: Massive online open courses allow anyone to enroll and access free online courses. Instruction material may include video lessons, readings, and interactive lessons with user forums.
  • SIS: A student information system is a web-based platform that keeps track of a student's performance and progress by recording grades, test scores, and attendance.
  • Synchronous Learning: This learning format occurs online in real time. The student and teacher experience is similar to a traditional classroom, except it occurs online via a virtual classroom or video conferencing.
  • Webinar: Webinars use video conferencing technology and software to present live or pre-recorded information on select topics. Live webinars enable participants to submit questions and comments.

Pros and Cons of Using EdTech

Pros

Online learning using games and apps can facilitate student engagement and increase collaboration. Computer-assisted learning programs can provide targeted instruction and customized activities for each student. Automated text messaging can provide homework reminders and encourage engagement from a student's family. Teachers can create podcasts and videos of their classes that students can view when preparing for a test or if they miss class. Classes can connect with students worldwide, fostering global student engagement while teaching them about geography or history. Digital tools can automate repetitive tasks, such as grading and tracking the performance and attendance of students.

Cons

Technology issues can arise, such as poor internet connection, trouble installing programs, or incompatible apps. Education technologies could aggravate existing disparities and exacerbate inequality for those without access. If used ineffectively, hard-to-use programs can lead to student and teacher frustration. Digital technology can interfere with socialization, and smartphones, tablets, and laptops can distract students from their lessons. A BYOD school policy may increase the risk of cyberattacks on school networks. Students who complete unsupervised quizzes or tests may be more tempted to cheat.

EdTech Tools to Use in the Classroom

The following list describes some free, popular, easy-to-use tools that teachers can apply to an array of content areas. The EdTech tools listed below may be used in traditional, hybrid, or virtual learning spaces.

Screencast-O-Matic

Screencast-O-Matic allows teachers to record content for students who were late to class or had to miss a lesson. Video recordings are great because students can review them at their convenience. Learners can fast forward, pause, and rewind lessons.

Padlet

Padlet is a virtual bulletin board that enables digital content sharing. Students can post images, text, videos, links, GIFs, drawings, recordings, and more to share with their peers. This is a fun tool that allows students to facilitate and actively participate in their own learning. Using Padlet, teachers can discover what students already know about a topic.

Canva for Education

There are many resources for teachers in Canva, such as presentation templates, virtual backgrounds, flashcards, posters, agendas, infographics, and lesson plans.

Nearpod and Pear Deck

Teachers can create engaging presentations by adding interactive content such as quizzes, videos, 3D options, virtual reality tours, drag-and-drop activities, collaborative boards, polls, and fill-in-the-blank questions. Teachers can create content from scratch or save time by uploading presentations or PDFs. Both tools also have interactive libraries that teachers can reference and use in their lessons.

Classroomscreen

This classroom management tool offers features such as a calendar, timers, a traffic light, work symbols, drawing options, QR codes, a sound level checker, and random name pickers. Teachers can use this multipurpose tool to showcase learning objectives with the text feature or have students navigate straight to a website via a QR code.

Blooket

Blooklet is a formative assessment tool that teachers can use to check students' understanding during a lesson. Using Blooket, teachers can create a quiz from scratch or upload it from Quizlet. Students can work on their own or play games together.

Some of the most popular games offered by Blooket include Gold Quest, Cafe, and Tower of Defense.

Jamboard

Available in Google Drive, this tool is a digital whiteboard in which students can draw, add pictures, write on sticky notes, and more. Jamboard allows up to 20 frames (or slides) and 50 distinct users on a board at one time.

Jamboard is also useful for collaboration. For example, at the beginning of a lesson, teachers might ask students to respond to a prompt by placing sticky notes on the board with their answers.

How to Use EdTech Effectively

With so many tools available, using EdTech can feel overwhelming. Here are some tips to keep in mind while using educational technology in the classroom.

  • Select a tool that reflects your desired learning outcome.
  • The EdTech tool should never drive the lesson — rather, it should complement the pedagogy and material.
  • Don't use educational technology just for the sake of using it. Paper and pencil can be just as effective sometimes.
  • Take small steps in learning the technology. Don't get overwhelmed with learning many tools at once. Instead, learn one tool and master it.
  • Ask your students for help. Chances are, your students know how to use technology and might be able to help you. Asking for assistance also demonstrates to students that you're a learner yourself.
  • Get to know a tool. Don't just choose the newest tool without considering how you can use it to enhance your lessons or engage your students. Begin by asking yourself, "How can I use this tool to support my students and my teaching?"

Frequently Asked Questions About Educational Technology

What is the main purpose of educational technology? true

EdTech uses digital technology to facilitate student learning, increase student engagement, and improve student performance. It can streamline and personalize lesson planning and help keep tabs on students' progress. For students, technology can create greater participation, allow them to study at their own pace, and make learning a little more fun.

Schools and teachers use numerous types of technologies in the classroom. Examples include virtual classrooms for online learning, interactive whiteboards, virtual bulletin boards, and content management systems. A survey conducted by Gallup in 2019 found that 65% of teachers used digital learning tools to teach every day.

What are the two branches of educational technology? true

The first branch of educational technology is the "academic" area. It involves reviewing and analyzing the teaching and learning processes from the perspective of technology. The second branch is the "practical" area and incorporates the actual use of EdTech in educational settings.

Together, these topics focus on the application of technology to enhance learning. EdTech takes on various forms, including video conferencing, learning management systems, podcasts, online discussion forums, and educational apps and games. When used correctly, EdTech can increase student participation, creativity, and analytical thinking. In the coming years, virtual and augmented reality may contribute more to this growing industry.

What is educational technology 2 about? true

EdTech 1 focuses on how technology can be used to facilitate better learning processes and environments. EdTech 2 is dedicated to integrating technology into the learning and teaching process. It includes hands-on applications and focuses on how to evaluate and integrate digital educational resources into the classroom.

Specific topics include using the internet for learning and exploring ways that IT can increase engagement and collaboration. Instructors looking to improve their teaching, lesson plans, and class management through digital technology may be interested in EdTech 2.

Ready to teach online? We offer 10 tips for successful online teaching. College presentations can be nerve-racking. Explore the best tips and tricks for giving engaging presentations and reducing pre-presentation stress. The pandemic presents unique challenges to students. Teachers who employ these four culturally responsive teaching strategies can help students succeed.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.