EdTech (education technology) can be defined as the combination of digital tools and technologies with pedagogical and educational practices which are used to facilitate learning. The European EdTech Network identifies motivation, feedback and mindset in education as key elements when creating digital learning environments. Educators have to make many choices about what EdTech to use and why, and these need to be underpinned by the learning outcomes that are to be achieved, rather than the desire to use a particular technology or tool.
Within the context of non-formal education principles, The European Guidelines for Digital Youth Work promote the use of different technologies to make services for young people more accessible. These describe how the use of EdTEch within a non-formal educational setting can create critical, innovative and value-based perspective opportunities and spaces in which young people can develop their 21st-century skills and become empowered to create their own digital futures.
EdTech within school settings scaffolds and facilitates learning within specific subject areas. For example, virtual learning environments (VLE) that can be accessed by both teachers and students both in school and outside it. Non-formal education is often less structured and less formal, so there is the opportunity for commercial EdTech, platforms and applications to be repurposed to achieve educational outcomes, as well as for specific technologies to be applied. For example:
- The spacelab_kreativ production school in Vienna, Austria supports young people to find vocational training opportunities and uses virtual reality to get to know young people, but also to promote 21st century skills to prepare them for careers in gaming, entertainment, journalism and education.
- YMCA Ireland uses 3D printing activities using Tinkercad software to promote design skills, collaboration, and teamwork within groups of young people.
- MitAssist in Denmark works with young men and uses blogging to give support, advice and guidance. This enables young men to open-up about issues in their lives as well as promotes digital competencies.
- Verke, the Centre for Expertise on Digital Youth Work in Finland, have developed Tips for Online Youth Work that relate to a wide range of EdTech, platforms and applications.