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

For education in 2018, the use of devices in the classroom will increase, however, we have passed the point of gimmickry and their role will be to as part of a core pedagogic delivery. For example, we’re likely to see an increased use of blended learning in the hands of skilled and innovative teachers within the classroom, as an effective teaching method which has benefits for both learners and teachers. It allows for teachers to incorporate activities with technology but also maintains the important balance of the teacher’s role as both deliverer of direct instruction as well as a guide to assist with learning whatever the learning demands.

The role of data will remain key for schools, but the emphasis will shift away from it being principally as a tool for statutory and external accountability and instead on to the insights into the learning process for the individual learner and how to use actionable data for interventions – both positive and negative. Teachers will be able to use this to inform their own day to day practice. The shift within education to move research out of the theoretical and into practical application within the classroom will be supported in 2018 by using data points that were not previously available to further inform and enrich practice.

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

The main challenges Edtech faces include being able to provide the capacity for people to innovate. With systemic changes necessitating some “bunkering down” over recent years, the tide will need to turn to allow schools and teachers the opportunity to try new approaches to teaching and learning – with the caveat that they capture evidence along the way. A continuing trend will be the focus on school budgets – whether it be an overall defunding – or a shift of resourcing, as a result, schools and educators will need to get more with less, without compromising teaching excellence. They may see that they can spend their budgets differently yet improve outcomes. We may see an increased emphasis on technology being used in a cost-effective way such as leveraging the investment made outside of school by then encouraging bring your own devices (BYOD) into schools.

We have now seen the world of apps develop so much that BYOD has become increasingly more possible to implement into the classroom, with apps often allowing students to access their learning resources and materials on their personal devices even when they are offline, thereby enabling learning even after they have left the classroom.

However, a challenge for 2018 remains striking the right balance between technology and pedagogy. Blended learning provides more learning opportunities than ever before, however, if the increased emphasis on technology becomes too much of the focus there is a risk that the activity focuses too much on technology, taking away attention from the learning. Insightful school leaders and skilled teachers will use their pedagogical knowledge to harness the power of technology to support and accelerate learning outcomes for their students.

Gary Bryant, UK Manager of ITSI

Stand: B111