Sam Green, MD Turinglab, joins the discussion.
Q. Is tech in education inclusive, divisive or neutral?
Sam Green: It depends how and when it’s used. If a teacher is setting homework for a class and half the students don’t have computers at home, then one could suggest that equal opportunities aren’t in fact being provided. However, there are so many ways technology is being used to make learning more inclusive too: from extra remote tuition for students who are struggling at school (Third Space Learning), to VR learning experiences that make even the most unengaged students more interested in a subject (Curiscope).
Q. What are the considerations when introducing tech into education?
Sam Green: Tech in education is a hugely complex subject, and considerations are numerous. One area I’d like to highlight is the importance of ensuring that you’re building technology products that have real educational value. Turinglab just joined EDUCATE: a UCL/NESTA/BESA programme that supports edtech companies carry out more effective research to inform the educational design of their products. Ensuring the true educational efficacy of a new product is hard. Carrying out unbiased, well-controlled studies to prove that your tech works, and to help inform the design of your product is vital. It’s important that we all consider this more before introducing new tech into education.
Q. How can tech make education more inclusive?
Sam Green: Tech (a nebulous term) can certainly be used to support educators to be more inclusive. One way a tool like the Turinglab Online platform tries to do this is by giving students more autonomy in their learning: we allow students to progress at their own pace in our platform, with extra support for those who need it, and extra challenges for those who shoot off ahead. This means students don’t feel stigmatised for their strengths or weaknesses and it provides an inclusive environment where everyone can learn.
Q. How do we ensure every student has access to tech and opportunities to use tech, whatever their background or socio-economic group?
Sam Green: Turinglab is working with universities such as Imperial College London through the Imperial Codelab programme, and corporate partners such as IT consultancy BJSS to provide extra opportunities outside of school for children from disadvantaged backgrounds to use tech, and in our case to learn to code. I think public institutions and private corporations have a large part to play in providing more opportunities to communities who don’t have access, or don’t feel comfortable accessing resources at school.
Q. If money were no object for education, what equipment or resource could be provided for students that are disadvantaged in some way?
Sam Green: Provide internet-enabled computers for all. Give teachers support in finding the right tools and ensure they have the training so they know when best to use them, and when not to.