Moving forwards, looking back – with Francesca Ooi

Second 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 year might bring for schools, colleges and universities

What three words sum up 2018’s education technology scene for you? 

Innovation, action, meaning.

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

Change management and the implementation of technology in institutions is still an area that needs great focus. Without this, however innovative the technology, the full benefits to both student and educator aren’t met. This means educators across institutions need shared understanding of both the purpose of technologies and how they can be embedded in practice for their context.

With the emergence of new technologies on offer for education providers, there is a risk of a digital divide created for students. Not only do education providers need to ensure they are acquiring and implementing the right technologies for them, they need to consider the equality of access and inclusion for all students. This contributes to the monitoring and evaluation considerations for institutions taking on technologies.

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

Working for Century, I have seen many schools taking advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) to personalise learning for students. Not only this, but teachers then use the data insights of their class’s online learning to enhance the quality of interactions had in the classroom, such as personal feedback and data-informed differentiation.

It’s been uplifting to see the number of schools moving away from harsh restrictions on technology use such as mobile phone bans. Instead these schools have policies in place to help students learn how and when it is appropriate to use technology, like phones, to assist their learning. This shapes digital skills and attitudes, directly applicable to the world of work.

Upskilling educators to be digital leaders will further demonstrate to students the importance and impact of technology

What has surprised you this year?

The rapid national rise in concerns for unsustainable school funding and budget shortfall for the education sector. This was highlighted by the unprecedented headteacher march on Downing Street, the first time the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) union had voted to strike for over 100 years. Along with extortionate teacher workload, the profession demanded that educational funding needs significant change to be sustainable.

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

Continuing professional development opportunities focused on digital skills and to support tech implementation. Just as for students, teachers should be able to develop their digital literacy and pedagogy in use of technology in the classroom at the right pace for them. Continuing Professional Development should truly be continual and not a one-off session with no follow-up or reflection on application to practise. Upskilling educators to be digital leaders will further demonstrate to students the importance and impact of technology.

What do you hope that teachers and lecturers will start to do more of next year to really make the most of all these digital opportunities?

I hope that educators consider digital opportunities as resources that can be used as a supportive tool. Considering how they will use the technology they have available in their lesson and long-term planning will ensure consistency and sustained impact of the tech.

Francesca Ooi is Strategic Partnerships Manager at Century Tech