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

We’re continuing to see the cost of devices fall, especially those with a touch screen or stylus. This means that classrooms will have greater access to better technology, and teachers who might have been hesitant to embrace EdTech in the past will be able to experiment and see the benefits in a cost-effective way.

The knock-on effect should be that, as these kinds of hand-held devices become more prevalent, the likes of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will become lesson staples - allowing teachers and students to fully immerse themselves in learning (and make the process much more fun!).

In a more technical vein, the way in which we at Texthelp, are utilising big data and machine learning is proving revolutionary for learning analytics. It allows us to have a clear overview of a student’s reading and writing progress, and so we can then shape technology to react and offer the appropriate kind of assistance. Though we’re currently enjoying positive results from this, we’ll see a greater impact over the next twelve months as the technology develops.

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

A lot of the edtech that we see in schools now in the UK had its seeds sown in the nineties, when UK government policy saw the demise of BECTA and an end to the influence of Local Educational Authorities on IT and Purchasing.

As a direct result of this, every school was encouraged to go its own way and start making its own decisions on IT provision. Though the goal was laudable, it has made IT an uneven playing field in the UK.

Schools in the UK also face the daunting prospect of having to buy software and hardware for one school at a time, which in very simple terms means there is no volume discount when purchasing technology! If schools in the UK were to group together at a higher level and agree to large-scale pricing, it would help lower the cost and in turn improve the quality of their IT.

Comparing the UK with the US, the two operate very differently when it comes to the use of technology in the classroom.  Potentially, there lies a challenge in convincing teachers to allow whole-class technology usage and student overviews to inform how they support each learner. The technology itself is truly amazing, and will completely transform the way that educators plan lessons and deliver instruction, as well as how students submit and share their work -- it’s personalised learning in its purest form.

Martin McKay, CTO, Texthelp.

Stand: C141