The Edtech Podcast monthly roundup: March 2020

Sophie Bailey returns with the low-down on what happened throughout March in the edtech world, looking at all the ways COVID-19 has impacted the sector

In last month’s review, I wrote, “As we battle with 24/7 coronavirus updates all around us, how many of us would be able to seamlessly transition to remote working or online schooling if we needed to? And, how can we better support everyone to get to the digital starting line?”

In the short time since this was written, now more than a 1/3rd of the world’s population is in lockdown, over 180 countries have implemented nationwide school, university and college closures, impacting over 87% of world’s student population (see this live UNESCO monitoring here), and the UK prime minister and heir to the throne are just two of 723,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally. The online video conferencing company ZOOM is now worth more than all of the US airline company stock put together. In short, the world has changed.

Out with bureaucracy, in with agility

We’ve talked often on the podcast about agile approaches, but when a one in 100-year global health pandemic arrives at your door, agility suddenly has an urgency all of its own. Whole hospital wards, timetables and resources start to shift. Government signs off on things like never before, and distance learning platforms get set up and operate within a week.

In our most recent episode, we spoke to Daniel Baril, chairman at the Institute for Lifelong Learning at UNESCO. Daniel talks about individual and collective approaches to lifelong learning, and how we might move to targeted education intervention as opposed to one-size-fits-all-technology. He talks about how the “app-ready” culture of China has helped to streamline their approach to COVID-19, and how the reaction to the pandemic will re-order the educational world.

“The aggregation of not answering learning needs becomes a social problem” – Daniel Baril, Lifelong Learning, UNESCO

The theme of collective vs. individual responsibility for lifelong learning is also picked up in episode 187 with Rajeeb Dey, founder and CEO at Learnerbly, who talks about personal learner budgets for corporate employees.

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This is not doing things perfectly – this is doing things urgently

Continuing the theme of circumstances demanding a rapid response, our listener episode in early March collected some of the initial responses to coronavirus, from vocational learning institutes in Beijing, China, to universities in Wales. Listening back, it’s interesting to hear how even in a few weeks, musings on what might be have already come into place as the urgency of the situation takes hold.

This theme of “what get’s written, gets done” continued in episode 188, where we celebrated change-makers in Higher Education.

“Don’t get it right, get it written” – the ethos by which Kimberly Eke, senior director, Information Technology at University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, encourages her team to action change

In this episode, Kimberley Eke is joined by fellow-guests, Dr Claire Gordon, director, LSE Eden Centre for Education Enhancement; and Liz Shutt, director of Policy, University of Lincoln, 21st Century Lab, to offer insights into thinking strategically to act positively. (All whilst amid coronavirus contingency planning).

Talent pipeline, technology and training

Offering some respite from coronavirus, episode 189 featured a recording from 2019 with Hector MacAulay, managing director at international infrastructure and manufacturing company Balfour Beatty. We chat about better connecting industry and education, plus the use of technology in training.

“The most critical asset we have is our people” – Hector MacAulay, managing director, Balfour Beatty

In this episode, Ian Hurd is also out and about at this year’s Bett and you’ll hear from a range of attendees about everything from avoiding plagiarism, developing attention and calm in the workspace, and skills development in AI with stories from the UK, via Israel and the UAE.

We also kick off the episode with a listener feature on the Edtech 50 evening with Nicole Ponsford, Becki Bawler and Caroline Keep from the Gender Equality Collective then, a message from HundrED.

Whatever impossible situation you find yourself in this week. We salute you.

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