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

Many will likely claim that 2018 is the year when Education will ‘go digital’ in a big way. As an edtech entrepreneur and former teacher, I know this is wishful thinking. I’ve heard this for years. What probably will happen in 2018 is a dramatic expansion in the quality and features of edtech products and services.

Unlike many sectors, education has been slow to digitise. There are a number of reasons for this but the most important practical limitation is that schools don’t have the resources to provide electronic devices for every student, so can’t rely on their presence. However, outside of lessons almost every student now has a smartphone and internet access...

2018 will be the year when edtech services improve most dramatically. Innovative new edtech services (‘Get My Grades’, ‘UpLearn’ and others) will provide online content mapped to the curriculum, with question banks, automated data collection and unprecedented tracking tools. This will lighten teacher workloads tremendously. Artificial intelligence is still a way off for edtech (there’s not enough data yet) but online working, especially outside of lessons, will increase. With it, the demand for more features and security will follow. Evolution, not revolution, is the likely outcome.

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

There are a number of challenges facing the edtech sector in 2018. The most obvious is the school funding squeeze, alongside more competition and increasing security challenges. On top of this, there is an increasing concern around digital citizenship and keeping pupils safe online, posing an additional challenge for the edtech sector to tackle.

It’s no secret that schools are facing a funding squeeze that is unlikely to improve soon. There is also increasing competition from new and established providers alike. Edtech will need to become more efficient and make a greater impact for lower cost to win and retain school partnerships.

Cyber security will be a major concern, especially with the new GDPR regulations. A variety of sophisticated threats exist that could disable an edtech platform or introduce malicious code such as ransomware. High profile attacks have taken place in 2017 and the cyber threat is very real -- with potentially fatal consequences.

Finally, with student welfare and online safety becoming increasingly important, edtech providers have an opportunity to make a real difference by incorporating resources and features to help foster digital citizenship. Edtech will be expected to play a major role in promoting cyber security for students.

John Nichols, Co-Founder and Head of Education at Get My Grades Ltd.

Stand: A451