COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation
Our episodes in June focused on this central question in one way or another. Kicking off was #194 – Working out the new norm: Edtech under lockdown which saw Saqib Safdar, digital innovation and learning lead at Star Academies; Julian Bream, Bloomsbury learning exchange at the University of London; Dr Neelam Parmar, director of edtech, digital learning and innovation at Ashford School; and Khaled Al-Ankar, head of e-learning and libraries at the Hull College Group, talking about the day-to-day realities of digital innovation under lockdown, including accelerated professional development and interest in digital, but also an exposure of poor online teaching practices where they do exist.
“I think now they will look at it like actually now we do need it” – Dr Neelam Parmar, director of edtech, digital learning and innovation at Ashford School, on digital teaching and learning tools and pedagogy…
Accelerated digital transformation as an offshoot of COVID-19, was continued as a theme in episode #195 (#195 – What Matters in Edtech Middle East and Africa) with teachers and headteachers from Kenya to Oman, noting this as a trend with easier conversations around digital literacy and training amongst colleagues and parents.
“It has put pressure on staff, but it’s also energising to be on that learning curve” – Kai Vacher, Principal, British School Muscat
Sustaining remote working and learning is challenging, but therein opportunity lies
“Life is about human to human interaction” – Richard Male, Investor, Ufi Ventures
As the month of June progressed, the difficulties in building back better have also started to come into view. Whereas at the beginning of lockdown, we had high hopes for a closer relationship with nature, the sight of plastic rubbish strewn on our beaches has only served to dash our initial optimism. In the same way, the potential of remote working and learning has also been tempered by stresses in the system; the digital divide and mental health and wellbeing issues for both teachers, students, parents and colleagues. The killing of George Floyd on 25 May also put a sharp focus on the inbuilt bias across our educational systems and technologies. And the decision in England to delay the start of school until September has stressed the need for online learning to go beyond a ‘patch’ solution.
In episode 196 (#196 – The Case for Vocational Technology – Part 2: Build Back Better) we looked at crucial questions around remote working and vocational technology. Is it possible to push remote working in a highly dense area like Hong Kong where not everyone has space to offer up for work purposes? Can a hybrid approach to the return to work be sustained without proper focus on employee wellbeing? What are the options for prospective students, interns, etc?
In this episode, an insight and data specialist on the new economy, an investor in vocational learning technology, and a specialist in supporting executive leadership and teams development chat about creative online working tools, and supporting employee wellbeing with all the change hitting us at present. This episode takes its starting point from a World Economic Forum article on 5 ways to reset labour markets after coronavirus recovery.
This month, I have also been monitoring the addition of schools and colleges to the Edtech Demonstrator Programme and the resurgence of MOOCS as furloughed staff and prospective students weigh up their options. More on the podcast soon.
You might also like: The Edtech Podcast monthly roundup: April 2020