The third in our series, Steve Wright speaks to Matthew Venton, deputy principal of Weydon School, Surrey.
Q. As schools, colleges and universities across the country ready themselves for the new academic year, what are their main edtech focuses?
I think most school leaders are concerned about their teachers’ workloads. Used well, technology can help reduce teaching workload through formative assessment tools such as Quizlet. Not only does it reduce teacher workload, it then aids lesson planning by using responsive teaching strategies to reduce the amount of time that students are waiting for feedback. Also, once one teacher in a curriculum area has made a quiz, it can then be shared across the whole curriculum area.
Q. What are educators most concerned about in terms of back of house/administrative/non-teaching tasks?
School management systems still do not deliver the simplicity that school leaders and teachers want. It should only take a couple of clicks to set a detention or run a report to see how many positive comments have been given – but the tech isn’t there yet.
Q. Which edtech products and services are garnering most excitement?
Seneca Learning has appeared out of nowhere this year and has proven to be extremely teacher- and student-friendly. Quizlet is extremely popular with both students and staff, due to its millions of customisable study sets that can be put to use right away as study activities and in-class games. And Quizizz’s integration with Google Classroom is an interesting development.
Q. What edtech topics are at the top of the agenda right now?
The constant integration and improvement of Google Classroom. Algorithms built into quizzing platforms to encourage daily/weekly/monthly reviews, high success rates and independent practice.
After that, prompting teachers to set, and students to complete, the quizzes would be the next step. A non-education app like Duolingo does this very well.
It would also be good to see more microphone features being built into apps.
Forbes magazine: Does Education Technology Help Students Learn? www.forbes.com/sites/helenleebouygues/2019/06/14/does-educational-technology-help-students-learn
Jisc’s Janet Network: www.jisc.ac.uk/janet
Imperial College Edtech Lab: www.imperial.ac.uk/business-school/programmes/global-mba/learning-experience/edtech-lab
European Edtech Network: www.eetn.eu