The year ahead for Schools Online Presence – EdTech

By Vicky Hart - 9 Feb, 2019
4 Minutes Read

An EdTech Revolution is unlikely in 2019

That technology can make a significant contribution to education is beyond doubt. The commitment of Damien Hinds to such is beyond question. Most schools would welcome it! But 2019 is unlikely to see a paradigm shift through an EdTech revolution. Rather we are likely to see the continuous slow-burn evolution of the use of technology in schools.

In August 2018 Damien Hinds announced that new technology would spearhead a classroom revolution. Five key areas were identified;

  • Technology support teaching to improve outcomes for all
  • Technology improving assessment processes
  • Technology delivering new methods of teacher training
  • Technology Reducing administration performed by teachers
  • Solutions for life-long learning for those out of education through technology

What is next for EdTech strategy?

We await the publication of an EdTech strategy that builds on the initial speech delivered on 7th August 2018. This is likely to be shared in the coming months. There is no doubt that it is welcomed by schools and by the EdTech industry alike, but it doesn’t mean we’ll see an overnight transformation. In fact, there are considerable issues that will negatively impact the strategy if they are not dealt with effectively and early enough.

How will funding and resourcing impact EdTech?

First and foremost, two key issues that the strategy is seeking to resolve are at such a critical point they are likely to have a limiting impact. These are core funding and teacher retention. Funding is central to change management. If you do not adequately resource change effectively it fails at the initial hurdles. Funding is required to create the time and space for people to make the changes necessary, this includes changing culture and appropriate training for staff. The crisis schools face in recruiting and retaining teachers will also limit the ability of schools to make the changes. Currently many schools feel as though they are fire-fighting and struggling with the workforce is a huge stumbling block.

Technology does make a positive difference!

Technology is already playing a significant role in developing assessment tools and in reducing administration. We see this as a Tech company that provide a communications app to schools. The time and the money this saves is significant and makes a difference, but at present its not transformational for teachers as their work expands to fill them time freed. The real transformational benefits of technology however will not be felt until it is ubiquitous across schools.

What part does AI play?

What place does AI have in my grandchildren’s learning when currently they have no more than one hour access each week to technology in the classroom? They have far more access at home and probably spend up to eight times more time interacting at home than they do in school. But who wants to open the world of AI and datafication of children out of school without appropriate safeguards in place in the first place. There are huge challenges present here today, that requires careful planning and considerable thought and probably legislation.

An EdTech revolution where benefits far outweigh the financial investment

In the early part of this century we saw technology in schools funded like never before. Since that time, we have witnessed the slow degradation of schools’ technology strategies as they struggle to fund the basics. An EdTech revolution is not the cheap option, it is costly. But it is worthwhile. Maybe, just maybe, this year’s comprehensive spending review will return us to the days of education, education, education. In which case we may see the early shoots of the EdTech revolution in 2020. In the meantime, schools and EdTech companies will continue to innovate and we’ll see the painstakingly slow evolution of the effective use of technology in schools.

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Author: Vicky Hart

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