Educational technology (edtech) made significant strides in 2019.
Damian Hinds was the first secretary of state for education to acknowledge the potential and role of edtech in the teaching and learning processes, with the publication of the Department for Education’s edtech strategy and launch of the edtech leadership group.
While there was more that could have been included, it was a very useful start to the discussion about edtech’s merits and uses.
Meanwhile, we also await the outcome of the Commons Education Select Committee’s inquiry into the fourth industrial revolution and the potential impact of automation on the workplace, and the knowledge and skills we will all need to meet that challenge.
As special adviser to that inquiry, I was fascinated to hear the insights and experiences of sector leaders, and their foresight for the future of the workplace.
Edtech: What 2020 will bring
So, what about 2020? What should we hope the new year will bring to this sector? I hope to see:
1. The previous government’s edtech strategy honoured and taken forwards. This will ensure that we don’t lose the momentum around the discussions taking place in education.
All too often in this sector, we see a change in secretaries of state that means that important initiatives are not seen through. We must hope this is not the case here.
2. Better funding for schools to enable teachers to make use of the edtech that is available. That could be funding for pupil diagnostic and recording tools or tech to help with timetabling or home tuition or tools to improve wellbeing.
The diversity of products out there is huge, and they have the potential to improve teachers’ workload and work-life balance.
3. Better training for teachers in the potential uses of edtech. As educators, you need to be informed of what works best and how it can help you in your day-to-day roles.
Often, a lack of knowledge and confidence can lead to teachers not exploring fully all the possibilities edtech has to offer.
4. A continuing explosion in the educational application of augmented and virtual reality, as well as artificial intelligence in edtech.
I hope that we continue to be mindful both of the need for sound pedagogy to underpin these – and all – edtech, and of the particular ethical challenges attached to these technologies, while we embrace the positive learning opportunities they offer.
5. Recognition of the need for increased collaboration between education and edtech developers across the world.
We also need to better connect with investors, both nationally and from overseas.
As director of the UCL EDUCATE programme, I am privileged to attend events globally. I have seen first-hand how edtech has captured the imaginations of policymakers and investment as far afield as Estonia and Singapore.
I am concerned that Brexit will make these collaborations harder, and restrict our ability to share ideas and development. It is incumbent on this government to ensure this doesn’t happen.
We must not be left behind as the world surges forwards.
Rose Luckin is professor of learner-centred design at UCL Knowledge Lab, and founding director of EDUCATE. She tweets as @Knowldgillusion