An education revolution?

Earlier this week, I was browsing through LinkedIn on my phone and I came across a link to a government news story: New technology to spearhead classroom revolution. In the link text, I spotted that it was aimed at schools, FE and HE and that got my attention. It must be worth a read, I thought. I have to admit, when I read the first paragraph about virtual journeys through the Amazon, I almost switched off, only because that is so far removed from our daily experience of entry level maths, English and ICT that it didn't seem relevant. But then, I spotted a phrase that appealed to my love of lists and bullet points: "help tackle the five biggest issues facing schools and classroom teachers today" and I decided to find out what the government thought these five issues might be.

Did I find out what those five big issues are? Not exactly, but it referred to some of them, loosely, and they included developing innovative teaching practices, cutting teacher workload and promoting lifelong learning. I'm not convinced that the powers at the top really have any kind of grasp of just how big these issues are, especially the last two, but the first one is something I'm pretty passionate about, so I read on.

The government seems to like things that come in fives, and this list of five got me thinking...

"There are five key opportunities for the sector to create a step change in education, improving teaching and slashing workload. These include developing innovative:
  • Teaching practices to support access, inclusion, and improved learning outcomes for all
  • Assessment processes, making assessment more effective and efficient
  • Methods for delivery of teacher training and development by upgrading educator support so they can learn and develop more flexibly
  • Administration processes to reduce the burden of ‘non-teaching’ tasks
  • Solutions to lifelong learning to help those who have left the formal education system to get the best from online learning."
My first thought was that using technology to address these issues should not be classed as innovative in 2018! Access and inclusion are right at the top of my priority list. I've seen first hand how technology can make the inaccessible accessible, and I intend to fight that battle for those that feel excluded from learning. For me, efficiency is sort of linked to this. When every task is made more difficult by an uncooperative physique, the ability to plan, collaborate and deliver using a range of technologies that increase efficiency is absolutely essential. It is this, that has made it possible for me to continue working full time and to still have the energy to walk the dog most evenings afterwards. I honestly couldn't do what I do without the technologies that I have embraced.

This morning, I was browsing once again and came across a JISC article written in response to the government news story. Amongst other things they say, "First and foremost, it is crucial to establish a level playing field across the education ecosystem in terms of ICT infrastructure," and that got my attention because that is what I've spent the last couple of months working on at work. This week has seen the fulfilment of a vision that has been in my (and my line manager's) heart for a long time. We have just replaced our IT infrastructure with a new networked system that should address some of the issues above. I feel a little sad that it's only just happened and it's long overdue but sometimes these things take time and in our case, there were other valid priorities that needed addressing first. I guess that will be the same right across our schools, colleges and universities. It would be naive to think that edtech is the only thing that matters... but it does matter and we do need to be addressing the issues.


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