Parental Concerns About Addictive Technologies & Screen-Time
We’ve seen many headlines saying how Silicon Valley parents are raising their children tech-free lately. Paradoxically, many of these parents who are restricting or banning their children’s screen-time are working in leading tech companies that live off our habitual use of digital services. Many researchers have also raised concerns about the negative impact of excessive use of social networking sites on our well-being.
The education sector is currently undergoing a rapid process of digitalization. As we’re worried about our children’s screen-time, the question has been raised whether we're doing students a disservice by making them sit in front of the screens in the classroom too.
Educational Technology Stands Out With Pedagogy
We at Education Alliance Finland see that the answer to the problematic question about addictive technology lies in pedagogy. The developers, buyers and users of EdTech should target their focus on the pedagogical design, learning efficacy and the pedagogical use of digital solutions. For the creators of EdTech this means that instead of trying to develop the most popular app or game, EdTech design should focus on identifying the learning goals and finding the best way to help students to reach these goals.
When writing this article I realised that not a single product among the EdTech products that Education Alliance Finland has certified so far has relied on a design built upon mechanics that are known to cause addiction – mechanics familiar from Facebook (notifications and social approval), Youtube (autoplay) and Fortnite (loot-boxes), for example. Yet, we’ve certified plenty of EdTech products that are very successful businesswise, such as Makeblock, PlayKids, CodeMonkey or Kahoot (yes, Kahoot is making revenue now with their huge user base). All of these certified EdTech solutions are motivational and entertaining, but they also solve a real educational problem and their design is built upon a scientifically valid pedagogical model.
When comparing a casual game and a learning game, we see that their commercial success factors are different. Whereas casual games’ commercial success is based on the number of monthly active users, learning games’ success is based upon the product's efficacy in helping learners to achieve learning outcomes. In order to achieve commercial success in the education space, there’s no need to rely on addictive mechanics in the product’s design. However, user retention is still highly important for EdTech products as well, since frequent use of pedagogically valid solution is likely to lead positive outcomes.
Blog written by Olli Vallo, CEO, Education Alliance Finland
About Education Alliance Finland (EAF)
EdTech Certification is a service offered by Education Alliance Finland, a private organisation specializing in quality evaluations of learning solutions. The evaluation process is based on global quality standard, developed by Finnish university researchers. Edtech industry stakeholders around the world trust Education Alliance Finland to ensure solutions are independently certified to a high-level quality standards.