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Ed tech in the classroom today is like giving teachers 'magical powers', says entrepreneur

Technological advances in the classroom over the coming years will be like giving teachers "magical powers", according to a leading expert in ed tech. 

Sherry Coutu (pictured), a former adviser to LinkedIn and advisory board member of Cambridge Assessment and Raspberry Pi and who has been described as one of the "25 most influential people in the wired world", believes that teachers will be empowered more than ever due to technology in schools. 

Speaking on a TES Podcast ed-tech special, Ms Coutu said that companies such as Knewton, which tracks students' working right down to their keystrokes on a computer, give teachers more tools to boost their students' learning.

"I see technology as an enabler and an empowerer of teachers, I don't see it supplanting teachers. It may even improve their role by taking away much of the admin that they have previously spent a lot of time doing and allow them to concentrate on the coaching and the mentoring and the teaching," Ms Coutu.

"I've always been an enthusiastic receiver of technology because to me it is a productivity enhancer and an enormous boost that I always felt was empowering, and I absolutely see that being the case for teachers. It almost gives them special, magical powers.

"They just didn't have that insight before that they can now use."

Increasingly, technology is allowing teachers to monitor the progress of each of their students, allowing them to tailor their lessons to those students who need it most, she added.

Her comments come just days after education secretary Michael Gove hailed the transformative power of technology in education to "advance learning" and enable schools to "adapt to change".

Speaking at the ed-tech trade show, Bett, on Wednesday, Mr Gove said: "Today's conference is a brilliant opportunity to see, try and feel – whether in this, virtual or augmented reality – the sort of technologies that are changing classrooms, and might go on to change the world." 

A report released in the autumn last year by the British Educational Suppliers Association (Besa) predicted that spending on technology by schools would reach nearly £600m by the end of 2014.

Much of the spending is going on tablets, such as the Apple iPad, as schools aim to give each student access to an individual computer.

According to Besa, 260,000 tablets and other mobile devices were bought by schools in 2013, up from 100,000 in 2012.     

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