Research published by learning technology company Sparx has revealed that three quarters of teachers and school leaders (79%) would like to see clear, tangible proof of edtech’s effectiveness in the classroom. On top of this, more than 50% do not trust the majority of claims made by edtech companies regarding their products and services.
The findings coincide with a brand-new initiative called the Edtech Evidence Group which launched at Bett – the world’s largest edtech show – last week. The group will serve as a platform for leading edtech companies across the UK, who are calling for progressive change in the quality of edtech evidence made available to schools. The EEG was founded by nine influential edtech organisations – Edtech Impact, Education App Store, GCSE Pod, HegartyMaths, Learning Ladders, Pobble, Sparx, Tasomi, and Whizz Education – all of whom have undertaken independent research into the efficacy of their products.
“Teachers and leaders are right to be concerned about the claims made by edtech companies and I’m reassured that educators want to see proof edtech works,” said Dan Sandhu, CEO of Sparx. “Unfortunately, the quality and availability of evidence varies massively across the sector, with some providers investing significantly in publishing the methods and results of research. Others are less forthcoming and it can be extremely difficult for schools to discern real evidence from marketing puff. The EEG recognises that putting pressure on the edtech sector is only one part of the solution, but without buy-in from providers, little change is possible.”
Conducted by TeacherTap, a regular teacher survey, the study asked more than 3,700 teachers and school leaders about their opinions on edtech. Results showed that school heads are more sceptical of edtech in the classroom than their peers, with 83% stating they would like clear proof of the effectiveness of edtech. Similarly, those with more than two decades of teaching experience are more likely to want evidence.
The demand for evidence-backed edtech is also a key theme of the Department for Education’s (DfE) edtech strategy, which discusses the need to “encourage scale-up for proven products and services which are evidence-based”.
Ty Goddard, chair of Edtech UK, said: “The edtech sector is a jewel in our digital sector. Investment is up, adoption in schools is growing and we know more about how edtech supports teachers and learners. Edtech UK is proud to be partners with the Edtech Evidence Group. For edtech to have a real impact in our schools, there needs to be a clear and honest conversation about how it can really help. The EEG is an important step along the journey. Our work with the government is positive with a new strategy and roll out to schools. We now need real ambition for the edtech sector – to help business growth across all of our country and teachers to use technology to support learning.”