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EdTech Guest blogs

Part 2: The future of education and technology

In part two of this interview, Oriel Square Director, Sam Derby, sat down with Alix Robertson and Loic Menzies to ask what they see in the future of EdTech.

Loic Menzies is the outgoing Chief Executive at the Centre for Education and Youth (CfEY) and is involved in projects across their work with young people. He is editor of the CfEY’s new book: Young People on the Margins, out now

Alix Robertson is an Associate at the CfEY and contributing author to Young People on The Margins. Before joining the CfEY, Alix was an education journalist at sister papers FE Week and Schools Week, and prior to that, a secondary English teacher. 

Three reasons to be hopeful

1. Innovation 

We’re seeing a lot more responsiveness and engagement from EdTech companies

We produced a podcast with Microsoft about the digital divide and we came out of that conversation feeling incredibly inspired about the future of technology in the classroom. I think part of that is because we’re seeing a lot more responsiveness and engagement from companies to actually ask what is needed and how they can help, rather than just pushing what they’ve got. 

The pandemic has forced a lot of educators to upskill really quickly on the use of tech for teaching remotely. It’s been the catalyst to say, ‘Right, we’ve got to do this now, we’ve got to make it work’. Now that people are feeling more confident, we’re going to see the innovation come in. We’re going to see teachers, educators and youth workers, working with technology in new and exciting ways. 

The pandemic has been the catalyst to say, ‘Right, we’ve got to do this now, we’ve got to make it work’.

2. Flows of knowledge

In one of our recent projects, we had an example of an art teacher who is connecting with an artist to remotely support the work of her students. That’s a whole new resource and I’m really excited to see what that will bring for young people. The pandemic has opened up the flows of knowledge in a really important way and on all sorts of different levels and our ability to hear the voices of different young people and different practitioners has been transformed.

The pandemic has opened up the flows of knowledge in a really important way

3. Tailored CPD for teachers

I was recently looking at the appetite for CPD and how that’s changed in terms of what format it comes in. Now, schools will be able to ask individual teachers: ‘Where are you at in your own professional learning journey as a teacher? And what is the best CPD that’s out there for you to develop the skills that you want?’. Being able to source that offers a lot of opportunities in terms of upskilling teachers.

Challenges ahead

Levelling the playing field 

Cost still jumps out to me as a major hurdle. Initially, I think making cost achievable for every context is really important. We need to level the playing field for schools that are trying to innovate and try new things. 

It’s a real opportunity for more collaboration between schools

It’s a real opportunity for more collaboration between schools too. For example, if you’re a large Multi Academy Trust, and you know that there’s a small local primary in your area that’s going to be struggling with this kind of thing, is there something that you can lend a hand with? And is there a way that you can pass on things that you’ve learned or offer support?

Hybrid learning

How do we open up opportunities without massively increasing teachers’ workload?

Perhaps the biggest challenge will be how you manage and face-to-face alongside online learning. We have heard a lot of teachers say it was almost easier when schools were more or less shut, rather than having to produce an online and a face to face lesson in tandem,  doubling the workload. If we want to open up opportunities for some students to be part-time at home for whatever reason, how do we do that without massively increasing teachers’ workload, or with a reduction rather than a doubling? We’re going to need to work out the dovetailing of hybrid delivery if we want to make the most of the opportunities it affords.

The CfEY’s new book, Young People on the Margins: Priorities for Action in Education and Youth, of which both Alix and Loic are contributing authors, is out now. By drawing together more than a decade of studies, this book provides a new way of understanding the many ways young people in England are pushed to the margins of the education system, and in turn, society.