In the past decade, robotics have evolved from a sci-fi fantasy set in some distant future to an industry capable of producing present-tense toys, companions, workers and self-driving cars. And this is just the beginning. The industry forecast calls for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 26 percent, which would mean a value of $210 billion by 2025.
The inventors (and users) of tomorrow are children sitting in preK-12 classrooms right now, who by and large are not learning about robotics. This represents a huge opportunity for education technology companies. Robots promise to become a bigger part of our daily lives as the industry shifts from being primarily industrial-driven to increasingly consumer-oriented. As they expand beyond the warehouse to wherever we need them, robots will become more diverse, intuitive and useful.
The speed of change has been impressive in recent years and will only accelerate as machine learning and neural networks endow robots with human-like senses, allowing them to “see” and even “taste” like we do. The skills children learn through robotics could certainly lead to career opportunities later, but that’s not the only reason to embrace the ABCs of androids. In addition to a range of science and math skills, students can practice problem-solving and creativity as well. We’ve arrived at a tipping point in robotics, and for education, that represents lifelong learning opportunities.
Here’s what edtech companies can do to prepare, in terms of both product and platform, for the future needs of today’s students.
1. Grow with students
There are a handful of companies creating strong educational tools in robotics for children, but they mostly target a particular age or stage. What if a robot (or set of robots) could advance as a student does? There is already a spectrum of teaching tools from various companies offering children of different ages the ability to learn about robotics (primarily coding), but how much more powerful would it be if a tool advanced organically with the student as they moved from preschool to high school and potentially even beyond? Just as coding lessons became more advanced, so too could other components of robotics such as engineering, electronics and, eventually, artificial intelligence. The pandemic took an eraser to the chalk line between home and school, so there’s no reason teaching technology shouldn’t follow this trend. Flexibility is key so students can learn at their own pace, when and where they want, for as long as they want.
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