The last in our series, Steve Wright speaks to Ty Goddard, Director of The Education Foundation/Edtech UK.
Q. As schools, colleges and universities across the country ready themselves for the new academic year, what are their main edtech focuses?
This year’s edtech strategy from the Department for Education means that we now have a full, UK-wide set of policies that is beginning to set out a direction for edtech across education.
Institutions are at different levels of digital capability and exploration. There is an energy around further education, or at least a sense that they are moving forward together. Across universities there’s a new positive focus on pastoral care: can technology help flag up issues with students? The recent Edtech 50 Schools publication from Edtech UK shows positive use of edtech to support teachers and learners, with a ‘whole-institution’ thinking on workload and collaboration.
Q. What are educators most concerned about in terms of back of house/administrative/non-teaching tasks?
There are some key infrastructure challenges around speed and ease of use. We need a focus on our digital infrastructure. Jisc’s Janet Network already supports colleges and universities, and it seems obvious to roll this out across all schools. We also need faster broadband speeds across education than across coffee shops. Look at what is here now, and on the horizon – AR, VR, AI.
Q. What edtech skills are teachers keen to focus on for 2019–20?
Professional development is a key investment and we have to get it right. Leadership teams must see this as a priority. I’m really impressed with the Chartered College of Teaching online training courses too. The College’s research journal on edtech is a good primer.
Q. What edtech topics are at the top of the agenda right now?
Education technology is finally gaining traction across our education landscape. We need to act as a sector – there are tough education challenges out there. Schools and colleges are having to cope with budget cuts, and this must be understood by edtech companies. We all have to focus on introducing purposeful technology across an institution.
Q. Should we be looking to any other countries/systems for inspiration as we seek to get the best from the edtech out there?
Inspiration is everywhere. Peer-to-peer conversations are so important. We have been lobbying for an edtech strategy in England for a few years – Wales and Scotland are already on that journey – and policy is always fragile if not understood and used on the ground.
The voice of educators needs to be stronger: this will not work if this is solely vendor-led.
The companies that thrive will help build the sector and encourage the involvement of educators.
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