What do you think will be the main things we’ll be seeing in ed tech in 2018?

This year we will see ed tech shift its focus from providing increasingly advanced technology to actually implementing it in schools and classrooms. We will definitely experience exciting new developments in 3D ­— VR, AR, and 3D printing — and the inevitable applications of blockchain technology to education (with significantly higher enthusiasm before the Bitcoin bubble bursts). However, a strong emphasis on integrating new tech seamlessly into the routines of educators will hopefully be the highlight of 2018.

Last year saw a growing concern around making sure that ed tech interventions have a meaningful impact. In the UK, the education sector saw the launch of UCL’s EDUCATE project, as well as continued work by ResearchEd and the Education Endowment Foundation – initiatives designed to make sure that education interventions achieve results that truly matter. 2018 is likely to build on this progress – making sure that the well-minded interventions are actually implemented.

The components of the new approach are not new in themselves – product development principles of iteration and an obsessive approach to gathering feedback from users apply to implementation as well. Companies that can translate their passion from building technology to overcoming implementation obstacles and reaching school improvement are likely to be better established for 2019.

What do you think will be the main ed tech challenges in 2018?

Wasted effort in data collection will increasingly affect both ed tech companies and educators in 2018.

More and more student-level data is being collected through the use of ed tech, oftentimes increasing the workload of users without a clear and immediate added value. Even the companies that invest in data visualisation need to ensure that their users actually make use of the data – time spent browsing dashboards is misspent unless it helps educators reach concrete actions for school improvement.

The issue of waste will be worsened by the enforcement of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May. GDPR is going to ensure even more resources are required by companies to comply with the new rules regarding user consent, data storage, and the right to be forgotten – particularly unpleasant in cases where the value from the data is not evident.

Limiting data collection and placing a clear emphasis on translating data into school improvement could help counter the wasted effort, but the decisions required may prove difficult to make by ed tech founders.

Janis Strods, Founder, Edurio.

Stand: E55