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Moving forwards, looking back – with Matthew Pearson

Fourth in a series of education technology experts from across the world of education looking back on a year of innovation, and anticipating what the coming one might bring for schools, colleges and universities

What have been the particular challenges of 2018 for education providers?

The challenge has been keeping standards high with ever-shrinking budgets, at least in regard to England and Wales. Schools and colleges still need to invest in technology particularly to replace infrastructure which is end-of-life, but money is tight and there are many other priorities for spending. Innovation using technology is still happening, but now more than ever it requires vision and leadership to achieve real improvements.

What technology have you seen making an impact in education this year? 

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is increasing in scope and volume. As AI becomes more efficient and available in different forms, it can be harnessed to compliment the work of teachers. Algorithms to mark homework or provide learners with individualised content are reaching maturity and therefore are viable for use in mainstream education. But caution is also needed here in case the hype around AI outstrips its ability to deliver results and it becomes yet another fad in edtech which lasts a few years before losing its shine and falling prey to the inevitable backlash.

Innovation using technology is still happening, but now more than ever it requires vision and leadership to achieve real improvements

What has surprised you this year?

There are very few, if any surprises in education; the system is remarkably stable on a day to day and even year to year basis. The inertia of ‘we’ve always done it this way and it works’ will act as a counterbalance to most external forces. What has been surprising this year from the point of view of someone working on a day-to-day basis to help schools use technology, is the change of attitudes around using Cloud services. In the past schools may have been hesitant to adopt Cloud solutions, but that is rapidly changing.

What would you like to see education providers put on their agendas for 2019?

The canny education providers are already thinking hard about how to do more with less. With budgets tight, the emphasis is on value for money and how to squeeze the most value out of a shrinking edtech budget. Cloud services, which save money by removing on-premise hardware, continue to offer this are a good example of where schools are saving money but actually improving what they can offer to students in terms of learning experiences.

Matthew Pearson is Education Adviser at ProWise

This article was edited on 19 December 2018