The Edtech Podcast monthly roundup: August 2019

Sophie Bailey, founder and host of The Edtech Podcast, gives us her roundup of the top talking points this month, including vocational education, teamwork and project management

August is the traditional ‘down-time’ for educators in the UK. Not so for administrators across universities, colleges and schools who are busy preparing for the next intake of students. At The Edtech Podcast we followed a similar pattern, with fewer episodes, but lots of work preparing and recording for our new series which launches in September. Naturally, there was also a chance to rest and dip our toes in the sea. But what did August have to offer on The Edtech Podcast?

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Building a team that will deliver change

In episode 159 we looked at how to develop the team who will deliver change. This was within the context of higher education, and in conversation with a broad range of leaders from across universities including Debbie Holley, professor of learning innovation and head of the Centre for Excellence in Learning at Bournemouth University, Chris Cobb, pro-vice-chancellor and deputy chief executive at the University of London, Andrew Turner, associate pro-vice-chancellor of teaching and learning at Coventry University, Wendy Purcell, professor at T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University and Jane Armstrong, senior director at Salesforce.

There was a debate around centralising change management and digital ‘transformation’ ( a contested term due to change being constant) or localising change at a team level. Andrew Turner talked about the role of objective project managers to keep things on track. This is an interesting episode if you query the breadth of your SLT view, even if you sit within it! We also talk about value and the tussle between liberal education and university as a bridge to work, and the potential for multiple university identities to evolve.

In a similar vein, episode 158 looked at the roles of pioneers and settlers who can help embed new technologies and working practices. In this episode, Dave Coplin, founder of the Envisioners, set out the case to re-embrace technology as a force for good, going against the grain of popular culture depictions of technology-enabled dystopias. We also look at the role of students in problem-solving within the education system.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Collaborative approaches have been a constant theme of The Edtech Podcast. Earlier this year Alt Schools pivoted after raising nearly $200 million. Many levelled the perceived failure or change of direction at Alt School to the lack of educators at the helm, relying only on the silicon valley faith in everything tech. One approach to mitigate myopic viewpoints is The European Edtech Network (EETN) which aims to bring together researchers, entrepreneurs and educators to scale collaboration and positive impact. In episode 157, we explore this idea with leading partners in the network including Lucía Figar, chief of corporate innovation and chairwoman of IE Rockets, IE University. You can also hear passionate calls to action from Leila Guerra, assistant dean of programmes at Imperial College Business School and Angela McFarlane to make our universities more responsive and entrepreneurial.

Vocational education and the future of work

A lot of our current work has been recording for our new series on vocational education. As the dust settles on results day for vocational and A-level students, our series trailer, published in August, features a sample of our series guests talking about the intersection of adult learning and tech, including careers and HR tech, the skills gap and training, diverse workforces and new modes of working, and the foundations for up-skilling and re-skilling.

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Keep an eye out at the end of every month for more of Sophie’s round-ups… always EXCLUSIVE right here.

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