Prof Rose Luckin is director at UCL Educate
Q. What are the key events this year that have affected your sector?
As every year the Bett Show, in January, shone a light on the edtech sector, and the innovation and entrepreneurship happening, not just in the UK but globally in this burgeoning industry. Here at UCL Educate we will be holding our second annual Demo Day at City Hall, London at the end of November to highlight the work of some of the fantastic companies and innovators who have participated in the programme, and who will be pitching to investors to enable them to expand and extend their products and services.
Nationally, the UCL Educate programme has welcomed the government’s edtech strategy and the creation of the Department for Education’s edtech Leadership Group to oversee and support the implementation of technology in the classroom.
We look forward to seeing how these strategies progress and bring about much-needed change and improvement in educators’ attitudes, experience and use of edtech. Looking beyond the UK, it has been fascinating to see how edtech has captured the imaginations of policymakers as far afield as Singapore, China and Estonia, who have incorporated its development into key national policy areas. These developments cannot be overstated, for they demonstrate the foresight and understanding of governments as to what is happening within the technology sector, and acknowledge that this technology is here, and here to stay.
While the UK remains a world leader in the field, we do risk being left behind unless we respond similarly and accept edtech as an inevitable and much-needed support to the progression of teaching and learning.
Q. Has there been a particular edtech trend or service focus that has affected you?
One of the most striking developments in the last year or two has been the proliferation of edtech that includes elements of artificial intelligence. This growing trend led to my being co-founder of the Institute for Ethical AI in Education last year, to try to ensure that innovators and entrepreneurs keep ethical issues, such as data protection, at the heart of their work.
The sector has also seen the maturation of augmented and virtual reality technology, which is likely to have a huge and positive impact on teaching and learning in the future, and it will be interesting to see how developers take this forward and what new opportunities these developments will offer.
Q. What has been your biggest challenge this year?
We are very mindful of the ethical issues involved with the design and development of edtech and have impressed the importance of this on the companies we work with. The growth in edtech development and availability also poses challenges for schools, who are currently operating in times of restricted budgets, not only in what they can afford to buy, but also in CPD and training teachers in the use of technology. To that end we have developed our Educate 4 Schools strategy to help educators better understand how to adopt edtech and to demonstrate its worth.
Q. What does 2020 look like for you and your sector?
The design and development of edtech relies on funding from investors, and collaboration between researchers, educators and entrepreneurs to ensure the technology being developed is robust, effective and fit for purpose. So, I have concerns about the effect Brexit may have on this, and on the UK’s position as a world leader in this field. We cannot get away from the reality that this status is in jeopardy at the present time.
For the UCL Educate programme itself, 2020 will bring about huge change. As our current funding period draws to a close, we have the challenge of ensuring that the programme remains sustainable and viable in the long-term and can continue its status as a pioneer in the UK edtech space.
● Jisc’s Step Up programme: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/rd/get-involved/step-up-programme
● Ofsted framework: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/education-inspection-framework