1. What are your top three edtech ‘buzzwords’ for 2017? Why?
I think there is general push back from educators to words like ‘disruption’ and I believe it is ‘understanding’ of education technology and ‘evolution’ that are useful and empowering concepts this year.
We need to start thinking and behaving like a sector. That means understanding where our educators really are in terms of thinking about tech and education. Across the sectors – from schools to FE to Higher Education – there’s need for professional development and support. A confident and forward-facing institution says we need advice, but we need coherence across institutions.
2. What trends do you see emerging in 2018? Which innovations or companies do you think will take the lead?
I think virtual and augmented realities and artificial intelligence are beginning to shape even more new ways to learn – but what are real adoption levels like? Another trend we may see is that of thinking through how we articulate impact within the sector.
3. What would the ideal 2018 look like in terms of edtech? Are there any tools or capabilities of which you think the sector is desperately in need?
We need to celebrate more and shine a spotlight on this vibrant sector. EdtechUK in partnership with Jisc are working together to support and develop the British education technology (edtech) sector. The ‘Edtech 50’ will celebrate those people, products and projects that are shaping this dynamic sector. We’d like people to nominate the Edtech 50, and nominations are now open at bit.ly/edtech50.
At our recent Edtech Summit I described education technology as ‘bubbling’ up from below across our education institutions. We have seen growing acceptance in policy circles about the promise of education and learning technology and we’ll see coherent announcements from the Secretary of State for Education.
However, we still need to address questions such as, what can we do to support our educators’ understanding and navigation of the growing edtech offer? How do we build an eco-system that supports growth across businesses large and small? What is the proper role of government? Can we think in new, imaginative and rigorous ways about impact?
I would also like to see Ofsted taking a much more creative and coherent interest in education technology.
4. What was edtech’s greatest achievement this year?
As we speak, education technology is supporting educators, consolidating knowledge and unleashing creativity – and that’s just for starters! This year, I think we saw more understanding of the role of technology across education and also growing confidence from leaders. System change needs coherence and – frankly – nurturing.
I was pleased that the 2017 Digital Strategy said this: “Education technology (edtech) is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK, accounting for 4% of all digital companies, and UK businesses have become world leaders in developing innovative new technologies for schools. The potential benefits when implemented correctly are considerable, both in teaching and in school administration. We want to make sure our pupils, their parents and teachers are able to make use of these opportunities.”
Now we need to build on this sentiment to grow the sector.
5. We have heard a lot of concern over the skills gap this year. How do you think the issue has progressed, and is 2018 looking any more hopeful?
TG: The skills gap concern is justified. There is a national mission to enhance digital skills across our communities, but we will need a clearer focus on digital literacy in our schools, colleges and universities to support this digital skills agenda. There are growing areas of promise across our country, and the Student Tracker work from Jisc suggests some movement and good work going on across FE and HE, but there is still a way to go. Culture change takes time.
It is a good thing that recently the government has stepped up the pace on digital skills from measures in Budget 2017 to the industrial strategy. The key will be leadership, sustainable funding, and momentum.
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