Q. What should schools, colleges and universities be focusing on for 2020?
Despite big changes across the sector, the fundamental need to make the most of limited resources will continue to be key for education providers in 2020. The difference is that the regular need to update traditional materials like textbooks will sit alongside a greater national push to embrace edtech solutions. Balancing these requirements will take a concerted effort from procurement specialists and teachers alike, with innovative approaches likely to yield the best results.
Q. What, if any, policy changes would you like to see in education this year?
The potential of technology in education has been talked about for many years, with thousands of exciting startups being established to offer a diverse range of products. To realise this potential, there now needs to be accessible support provided to help implement edtech solutions on a large scale. Whilst this would be welcomed as a financial offering, there is also massive potential to upskill a larger pool of teachers in areas such as coding.
The UK has been a global leader in coding for many years and, to continue this pedigree, teachers need to have the time and resources available to teach the subject effectively.
Q. What policy changes do you actually expect to see in 2020?
Most of the leading political parties have outlined some degree of increased funding for education, from secondary school level to adult training. To fully embrace edtech in schools, MATs and universities, many teachers will require additional training to adapt lessons and learn new software.
There is also an understanding in government and amongst the general public about the need to educate future generations about climate change. In 2018, YPO supported the roll-out of UN-accredited climate change teacher training. Using this and similar schemes, we expect the environment and edtech to dominate the education landscape side-by-side, with more products being developed to reduce emissions and encourage recycling.
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Q. If you could pinpoint one area of improvement for the education sector during 2020, what would it be?
Before any advancements in education technology can be put in place, there need to be significant changes around connectivity. Many UK organisations still rely on outdated internet connections that are, by proxy, restricting access to the latest edtech products. This also leaves these education providers more open to significant data losses, as access to cloud-based data storage systems is limited. Achieving fibre connectivity by 2025 is of paramount importance.
Q. Is there a particular area within edtech that you think should be the main focus for 2020?
There are a number of different areas where edtech could make a considerable difference in 2020.
Safeguarding will become increasingly important as organisations upgrade their connectivity, with cloud-hosting protection and safe broadband for schools frameworks expected to be in strong demand. Safeguarding through digital channels is important, but tech can also improve the safety of children – as seen by the development of products such as the Home 2 School app, which connects parents and schools with location updates of their children/pupils.
In terms of innovative uses of technology, vocal recognition products are becoming increasingly popular for teachers looking to reduce their marking workload. This specific integration of software will support teachers’ wellbeing, leading to a greater retention of staff and, ultimately, improving teaching standards.
All things considered, it’s an exciting time for education technology. With the right support from government and procurement bodies, significant changes can be made in the near future.