Insights

The DfE EdTech strategy will succeed

This is a series of occasional blogs by BESA members and is part of their paid membership service. These views are not necessarily those of BESA and a published blog does not constitute an endorsement.

by Andrew Goff, ONVU Learning Director

The DfE EdTech strategy will succeed – as long as we all encourage the schools we work with to get on board.

It was a privilege to attend the EdTech Strategy Engagement event organised by BESA on Monday 13th May in London. EdTech companies, school leaders and organisations including the Chartered College of Teaching and ARK were able to reflect on the DfE’s EdTech strategy ‘realising the potential of technology in education’ .

The first point I took away from the event was how practical the strategy is. I’ve spent nearly 30 years in education – 12 as a teacher and 15 in EdTech – and while I’ve seen great ideas from the Government in the past this is the most joined-up. The report focuses on the practical contribution we can make from the opening quote by Dominic Norrish of United Learning – ‘EdTech is not a silver bullet – it’s a thread woven through the processes of teaching and learning’.

At ONVU Learning we’re aware of three goals that must be met to deliver real improvement in classrooms – we have to show empathy with teachers and understand their problems; our technology needs to be as simple to use as a light switch; and we have to focus on long-term transformation backed up by external evidence gathering and our own action research shared with the academic community.

This means that we can effectively work to solve the Government’s EdTech Challenge 7 which seeks to ‘demonstrate how technology can support schools and teachers to diagnose their development needs and support more flexible CPD’. We are equipping teachers, school leaders and mentors with exactly these skills through video observation, coaching and online training – and ensuring that CPD meets the specific needs of every teacher rather than ineffectual whole-school INSET.

We’re also excited by EdTech Challenge 5 (‘show how technology can facilitate part-time and flexible working patterns in schools and colleges, including through the use of timetabling tools’) as we use video to shift the time and location of CPD, observations and performance management.

The big question though is how to help this strategy to succeed, where other initiatives in the past have fallen away. Our challenge to the EdTech industry is to engage the schools we work with and other partners such as ITT providers, the Chartered College and the Teacher Development Trust in the process.

That’s why we’re talking to all our partner schools now and encouraging them to engage with the opportunities available – in particular applying to be Demonstrator schools (the process closes in September so it’s vital to engage them before the summer holidays) and working with the organisations selected to evaluate the use of digital tools.

We’re also very keen to work with other EdTech businesses that want to use our ‘windows into classrooms’ to see how their solutions are being used in real classrooms by real teachers and students.

And we’re also very keen to work with the Government, BESA and other organisations to share our empathy with UK schools internationally and expand our work further beyond our existing foothold in India. We’re excited by the opportunity to help make the UK ‘a world leader in EdTech’ as set out in paragraph 19 of the report and growing further the £19.9 billion education brings to the UK annually.

Finally, I think it’s important to set some clear goals for this strategy. I think we will only be able to say it has worked when we see both improved learning outcomes for our young people and increased global revenue for UK EdTech companies – it’s not about selling lots of ‘bling’ quickly!

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By Andrew Goff, Director of EdTech company and BESA member ONVU Learning.

ONVU Learning is the education division of ONVU Technologies group. With over 20 years of education, video and technology experience, ONVU Learning is focussed on improving teacher coaching, development and satisfaction, and ultimately student outcomes. Partnering with schools, governments and education advisors around the world, we are determined to design, refine and align multiple technologies to play an important part in defining the learning environments of the future. Visit the ONVU Learning website now.