What do you think will be the main things we'll be seeing in ed tech in 2018?
Our pedagogical approach to teaching computing is going to become increasingly important. We’ve won the battle to convince people that computing needs to be taught; now we need to work out how best to teach it. Learning through play was once a divisive topic, but in 2018 we will see more educators embrace the benefits of play-based learning techniques, especially when it comes to teaching computing. Most now agree that with the right game or task, children have fun and play while also absorbing knowledge that can be developed once interest and engagement has grown. Play-based learning allows students, through guided exploration, to develop not only their creativity but also an understanding of key principles and concepts. Allowing students to make their own ‘discoveries’ is a powerful hook to engage them in lessons.
Edtech will follow suit, with plenty of product launches supporting creativity in the classroom, going beyond traditional textbook learning at a desk. Opportunities to use Mixed Reality (AR and VR) in the classroom will grow, and I hope to see some innovative new resources that will harness this exciting technology. With the creation of increasingly innovative edtech will come the need to carefully consider how we best use these resources with our students. However, if we are going to help tackle the digital skills gap, hopefully this year, there will also be a greater emphasis on how these technologies can demonstrate exciting career opportunities.
Within the games industry, this has already begun to take shape. With the digital skills gap threatening to diminish the pool of talented games designers and programmers, games industry giants have signed up to support a careers event that works with schools to learn computing skills through competitive gaming, as well as the varied job roles available.
2018 is set to be the year that education and technology grows even closer together, inspiring students with their learning but also preparing them for a career that may not even exist yet.
What do you think will be the main ed tech challenges in 2018?
Although government interventions and top quality teaching methods have paved the way forward, out of the digital skills gap, the UK is still in a state of crisis when it comes to recruiting talent with the necessary experience and technology knowledge. In the recent Industrial Strategy announcement, we have been promised £84m for improving computing teaching. The challenge for edtech this year will be to support educators in accessing the necessary tools in order to use the additional funding efficiently.
Following a discussion panel between players within the education sector, it is clear that we need to inject more creativity into the way we deliver computing lessons. The rise of Artificial Intelligent (AI) is an important element of this, because as the technology develops the knowledge we share with teachers and students needs to remain up-to-date. The challenge for edtech is therefore to continue to innovate, but involve educators throughout the process and demonstrate how to use their inventions in the classroom and inspire the next generation of technologists.
Shahneila Saeed, head of education at Ukie and director of Digital Schoolhouse.