Tech Disruption: How technology plays a role in changing education

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Technology For Better Education

TechCrunch Disrupt is kicking off in San Francisco this week where startups get the chance to start disrupting the tech industry -- and possibly even the future of learning.

We've already seen what startups are capable of when they take on the challenge of changing education.

Remember textbooks, notebooks, pens, pencils and endless chalkboard notes? Exhausting.

When companies like Rafter entered the industry, it sparked a change for the better. In 2006, Rafter launched BookRenter, the first textbook rental site. But then they went further.

Textbooks and course materials went digital -- not only saving space in university bookstores, but the switch cut costs for students.

And it went beyond the desk.

In 2012, Udacity brought higher education to the students. The educational organization entered into the tech industry and offered students a more convenient way to learn: online.

It's technology like this that enable students to learn anything from anywhere.

And the lessons can be more personalized. No more one-size-fits-all.

Take a peek at schools and technology in the gallery below:

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Computer use in classrooms worldwide
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Tech Disruption: How technology plays a role in changing education
Students work with a computer in a science classroom of Michael J. Petrides School in the Staten Island borough of New York, Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Mayor Bill de Blaso announced the expansion of the Progressive Redesign Opportunity Schools of Excellence (PROSE) program. The program consists of a small group of schools that can work outside certain city and union classroom regulations. (Anthony DePrimo/The Staten Island Advance via AP, Pool)
In this April 30, 2015 photo, Leticia Fonseca, 16, left, and her twin sister, Sylvia Fonseca, right, work in the computer lab at Cuyama Valley High School after taking the new Common Core-aligned standardized tests in New Cuyama, Calif. The Cuyama Joint Unified School District is 60 miles from the nearest city and has Internet connections about one-tenth the minimum speed recommended for the modern U.S. classroom. Across the country, school districts in rural areas and other pockets with low bandwidth are confronting a difficult task of administering new Common Core-aligned standardized tests to students online. (AP Photo/Christine Armario)
In this photo taken Tuesday, May 15, 2012, Ritter Elementary School elementary student Fatima Escalante 9, practices her math operator skills in Los Angeles. As teacher layoffs result in larger class sizes, schools are increasingly looking to technology to help bear the load. Some charter schools are investing heavily in classroom computers, and Los Angeles Unified is also exploring the idea. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
In this photo taken Monday, Oct. 25, 2010, nine year old Ephan Wnn works at his computer in a classroom at the Cherokee Nation Immersion School in Tahlequah, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
A pupil uses a laptop computer during a english lesson at the Ridings Federation Winterbourne International Academy in Winterbourne near Bristol on February 26, 2015 in South Gloucestershire, England. Education, along with National Health Service and the economy are likely to be key election issues in the forthcoming general election in May. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
n this photo taken on October 10, 2013, long distance student Cameron Smith (C), from Tieyon Station some 370 kilometres out of Alice Springs in Australia's Northern Territory state, speaks with a teacher at the Alice Springs school of the Air (ASSOA) by video link. Children in Australia's remote outback have for decades learned at 'the world's biggest classroom' -- but while the ground-breaking School of the Air once provided lessons over radiowaves, it now does so via computer technology. (Photo credit GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
Egyptian students attend a secondary school class at the 'Futures Tech' private school in Cairo on October 23, 2013. Classes are overcrowded, curriculums out of date and facilities crumbling. In Egypt, frustrated parents have for decades relied on private tutors as overpopulation and government neglect have eviscerated public education. (Photo credit KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A young boy with Down syndrome works on a computer at a specialised school of the 'Right to Live Society', a Palestinian non-governmental organisation that takes care of 400 children in the Gaza Strip, on September 10, 2013 in Gaza City. (Photo credit MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
Computer IT classroom, Hammersmith Academy, Academy School, Europe, United Kingdom, 2011, Barnsley Hewett & Mallinson Ltd. (Photo by View Pictures/UIG via Getty Images)
In this picture taken on June 30, 2010, Pakistani Baluch women take a computer training class at the Baluchistan Institute of Technical Education (BITE) run by the Pakistan army in Quetta. The army founded the Baluchistan Institute of Technical Education (BITE) three years ago in Quetta as part of a pilot programme to turn raw youth into skilled labour in the resource-rich, but insurgency-torn southwestern province. Although a drop in the ocean of massive challenges facing Baluchistan's eight million people, the institute offers an opportunity for teenagers from low-income families to learn skills that can earn them a decent livelihood. Baluchistan has some of the most remote communities in Pakistan, miserable social indicators and a deeply traditional society where many women, particularly in the countryside, are rarely allowed to leave the home. Baluchistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, has suffered from a separatist insurgency for six years. Sectarian killings targeting non-Baluch and non-Sunni Muslims are on the rise in Quetta, the regional capital. (Photo credit AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 26: A pupils uses a computer during a music lesson at the Ridings Federation Winterbourne International Academy in Winterbourne near Bristol on February 26, 2015 in South Gloucestershire, England. Education, along with National Health Service and the economy are likely to be key election issues in the forthcoming general election in May. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
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One great example of this came from the OpenStax project at Rice University. It not only provides an array of subjects, but it uses algorithms to enable textbooks to adapt to individual students. So as students learn from the book, the book also learns from the students.

That's pretty smart.

And the EdTech startups keep on coming. This year we have our eye on a few:

Picmonic: which centers around the idea that "a picture is worth a thousand words." It enables students to create and share visuals like diagrams and even cartoons to prepare college students for standardized tests and finals.

Mystery Science: A video series that answers simple science questions that don't seem so simple at first to K-6th graders. Like "how are rocks made?" or "if hot air rises, why is there snow on top of mountains?" Pretty helpful for teachers too.

And NI-O Toys: It develops 3D-printed, customizable toys that encourage kids to learn.

Who says learning can't be fun? Not technology.

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