The Edtech Podcast monthly round-up: May 2019

Podcast founder and host Sophie Bailey gives ET readers an exclusive round-up of some of the topics she’s encountered this month, including IoT, scaling edtech, and lifelong learning

Last month I had the pleasure of sitting down with ET editor Charley Rogers. The outcome of that chat was this column, where I hope to bring you a quick review of recent podcast conversations, work travels and general trends which might be of interest. Please do get in contact if you find this useful or you’d like to suggest any changes.

“The world’s favourite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.” – Edwin Way Teale

Right, May.

Culture vs. scale

As I write this, I’ve just got off the phone to a university COO in the UK. We were chatting about the tension between universities retaining their individual culture whilst trying to scale operations, and whether off-the-shelf management systems were able to manage this balancing act.

In a different way this theme was evident in my chats this month with Next Billion Edtech Prize winners from Tanzania, India and Egypt.

How can you access learning if the learning content is not in your own language (a problem Ubongo is trying to solve across the African continent); or if you are outside of the traditional education and/or infrastructure system ( a problem Dost Education is looking to solve in India); or if you don’t fit the usual culture of those practising science in the lab (a problem Praxilabs is trying to solve in Egypt, and Emma Russo is tackling closer to home in the UK)?

If you want scale, try the 30 million children of primary school age who are out of school on the African continent.

Navigating the maze

This complexity is a defining characteristic of the education sector.

We know every school, college, or university is unique – as are each individual edtech team and company. But how can we better make sense of what is ‘out there’ on both the ‘ed’ and ‘tech’ sides? Providing orientation tools in edtech continues apace.

This week I attended the Jisc and Emerge Education launch of Step Up, a pre-procurement health check of sorts for universities and colleges to de-risk working with edtech organisations by providing a standardised, transparent view of team expertise, financing, and existing educational sector partnerships.

How can we better make sense of what is ‘out there’ on both the ‘ed’ and ‘tech’ sides? Providing orientation tools in edtech continues apace.

A bad analogy, but it reminded me of the NHS’s approach to removing branding from cigarette packaging. Marketing can be a powerful psychological tool in decision making; the idea of the Step Up programme is to provide educational institutions some confidence in their decisions outside of slogans and websites.

If I had a pound for every time someone said “digital literacy”… but what does it mean?

As we all know, solving a problem starts with defining that problem. Dr Yuhyun Park is the founder and CEO of the DQ Institute, which has worked with the Coalition for Digital Intelligence (CDI) supported by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and formed jointly by the OECD, IEEE Standards Association (IEEE), and DQI, to launch the 2019 DQ Global Standards Report, the world’s first attempt to define a global standard for digital literacy, skills and readiness across the education and technology sectors.

I spoke to Yuhyun as a guest of one of this month’s episodes. Which brings me back to culture and scale. How do you define digital literacy across culture and context? (You’ll just have to listen in to find out more).

Lifelong learning is centre stage

Lifelong learning is very front of mind as The Edtech Podcast is just about to launch our new podcast brand in this very area. I was excited to meet the CEO of Beam this month, who will be on the podcast soon. Beam are creating an online platform to connect funders and the currently homeless to train, learn and pursue their career passions. It’s also been intriguing to find out how many in the current edtech world are pooling resources and teams into ‘lifelong learning’, ‘future of work’ and ‘careers and training’; from Pearson, well-known incubators and accelerators, and government. Watch this space for lots of announcements.

 The intelligent campus and IOT

The last episode we worked on this month was the latest in our Education 4.0 series looking at education in the era of the fourth industrial revolution (AI, robotics, machine learning etc.) I speak to a range of specialists from across Bournemouth and Glasgow Universities, and Morley College about their concept projects to make the campus more smart and responsive to student needs through the use of technology. It’s an interesting idea, especially as our need (outside of certain subjects) to be loyal to one campus diminishes.

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Keep an eye out on the last Monday of every month for more of Sophie’s round-ups… always EXCLUSIVE right here.