What do you think will be the main things we'll be seeing in ed tech in 2018?
In 2017 people of all ages became much more familiar and comfortable with the use of both cloud-based storage and mobile video; indeed everyone now expects any digital interaction to work well on their own mobile device anywhere. Google’s latest Pixel 2 phone offers unlimited cloud backup for photographs, while Ofcom research showed that British 12 to 15 year olds are more familiar with YouTube than the BBC or ITV. This familiarity will drive practical changes in schools in 2018 – with more schools rather than just trail-blazers looking to enable access to learning outside of school hours, enable more creative collaborative work and engage parents and carers in the process. For many years we have seen virtual learning environments come and go but with the pressures on schools and the students now having their own digitally enabled and connected devices it is hopefully the time for these platforms to finally deliver return on investment for schools. In terms of new innovation it will be an exciting year for virtual reality and potentially for interactive voice-based systems; how can such systems as Alexa increase access to learning for some students?
What do you think will be the main ed tech challenges in 2018?
The main challenges will remain the same – cost, time, connectivity – and cynicism. Schools have limited budgets and need to carefully consider how any investment will improve teaching, learning or other vital aspects of their school’s future such as recruitment and retention of teachers. The pressure on all school staff to deliver great learning also means that time to properly train and test new edtech can be difficult to find. So it’s not surprising that this can make staff cynical about new technology – especially those who see unused interactive whiteboards or tablets sitting in classrooms. To overcome this edtech companies need to develop long-term partnerships with schools, taking the time to make sure that there is real educational value to their services and speaking the language of teachers as well as technology. In the same way as education is moving towards evidence informed professional development for its teachers, schools must really consider the purchase of new edtech and ask vendors for evidence of positive impact on teaching and learning; the core focus of our schools.
Andy Goff, Director of ONVU Learning