Roundtable: Six degrees of separation – Caroline Kennard

How fast is the pace of edtech adoption around the world, and where does the UK stand in the edtech roll of honour? Steve Wright asks six edtech experts for top tips, best practice, and the view from where they sit

Caroline Kennard is international business development director at Britannica (UK)

Q. What does your country’s edtech strategy look like currently? Is the adoption of edtech where you would like it to be, or is more progress needed?

In the UK, our edtech strategy is based on schools’ escalating need for factual, trusted information – but also on promoting engagement with education and a joy of learning among students. 

Q. Are there any factors or agencies driving the pace of change in your country?

The underlying, universal issue affecting the pace of change is not just the dominance of factually incorrect information; search-engine algorithms are currently not sufficiently advanced to differentiate between fake and credible information. Consider the fact that internet searchers click beyond the first page less than 5% of the time to look for more credible information that may be buried in back pages. There’s a strong case for us to strive to become more astute as consumers, and to teach this type of vigilance to future generations.

Q. How would you assess your country’s progress in edtech, against the global picture as a whole?

Sadly, in the UK schools struggle to invest in edtech because of the lack of funding. There is an often misplaced fear that adopting an edtech strategy in a school will be expensive and difficult. This is not the case with a good ICT strategy, but that fear still holds schools back.

Q. What are your impressions of the UK’s edtech landscape? Anything you have seen here that you like, and anything we could be doing better?

Technology continues to evolve and we see the launch of new solutions on a regular basis. It wasn’t that long ago that artificial intelligence, augmented reality and robotics were in their infancy: each is now playing an increasing role in edtech product development. The trick is to find the resources that don’t drain teachers’ time but, instead, streamline administrative tasks and engage learners. I would like more suppliers to consider the ever-increasing demand on teachers’ time when they are developing their new resources.

Q. Any particular instances of best practice that you’d like to share/promote?

Examples of best practice for schools and universities include: installing some sort of safe search facility; not trusting news sites necessarily, especially politically aligned publications; always using trusted search tools; and making it second nature to question everything you see.