Keep Calm and Carry On(line)

For many in education the forced move to online is a challenge. Without wishing to diminish the very real difficulties people are facing, particularly in the short term, it is interesting to read the perspective of the CEO of a leading awarding body that foresees the current crisis as an opportunity as much has a challenge.

Kirsty Donnelly, the newly appointed CEO of City & Guilds, but a long-term pioneer of online learning, shared her positive outlook in a recent interview with FE Week.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • The current situation may demand changes that in reality should have been embraced long ago
  • Beware of the ‘dominant logic’ of the sector or the organisation, preferred solutions may not be sustainable
  • Be bold enough to start with a ‘blank sheet’ centred on requirements to build a sustainable education and assessment model first with aspects such history, heritage and capabilities integrated where they add value second
  • Consider the value chain and ecosystem in its entirety, chose where to play and be prepared to collaborate, not just compete
  • Make online assessment and proctoring work
  • And finally, recognising that greater central government intervention is a reality, a plea that this is as a participant in the ecosystem rather than just the head

In a nutshell, it’s all there to play for but to survive and thrive we will have to be bold, move at pace and deliver value to its students, employers and society.

Your views?

How do you foresee the future? What are the key challenges? Where are the opportunities?

Please share your thoughts below –

BETT 2017 – one year on, will Edtech have met the evidence challenge?

A long-standing tradition is that BETT is opened with keynote address by the Secretary of State for education. This provides businesses in education with a helpful indicator of the ‘mood music’ for tech demand in the year ahead. 2016 was no exception, so as we look forward to BETT 2017, we thought it worthwhile to reflect on some of the key themes from the then Secretary of State for Education, Nikki Morgan’s speech, notably a call for Edtech to up its game on evidencing benefits.

BETT Nicky Morgan


Support for ‘evidence based’ technology ‘that really works’

Overall whilst claiming to be excited about education technology there were caveats:

First that education technology is an aid to schools and teachers but not a replacement.

Second that technology benefits should be ‘evidence based and outcomes driven’ – ‘where it really works – we will back it all the way’. In this context, it was instructive to see the high profile and support given to developments in assessment, notably adaptive systems alongside the more usual suspects of broadband, computing in the curriculum and online security.

Finally, there was an expressed ambition for open data standards – welcome in principle, particularly when considering progress in comparison to other sectors such as healthcare, but possibly still early days.



All change for 2017?

So what might we expect in 2017?

Post Brexit we do have a new Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, whom we can expect to have her own agenda. However, retaining Nick Gibb et al means we can expect continuity on the priority given to assessments, and, with paper the preferred medium for exams and associated textbooks, a continuing squeeze on tech.

A likely development is a heightened drive for efficiency combined with pressure for a redistribution of the combined budget of £86bn now that universities have joined schools and colleges under the same DfE umbrella.

A simmering, if not burning platform however is a projected bulge in school’s population, which combined with teacher shortfalls and a widening education/industry skills gap are all problems suggesting potential for a fresh impetus for innovation and change.

Adding to this pressure is England’s failure to make progress in the latest international rankings in Maths and Science (TIMSS) whilst Singapore retains the top spot.

So we await the Bett 2017 edition with interest.

In the meantime a full transcript of Nikki Morgan’s 2016 BETT speech can be found here  

Your views?

Are you expecting change or more of the same? To what extent might a redistribution of the £86bn budget benefit UK education rankings and young people’s education? Has the Edtech industry done enough on evidence to secure its share?


2016 and beyond: Predictions from Altain and eleven others in the qualtech industry

Earlier this month RM results, world leaders in online marketing technology, invited influential figures in the qualtech industry to share perspectives on the future. Predictions shared by Geoff Hurst, Managing Director of Altain Education are reproduced below and the full article featuring all twelve contributors can be found here


Reform, reform and more reform

Predictions for this year are, on the face of it, easy. Reform, reform and more reform – potentially leaving little bandwidth for anything else.

In September last year, teachers began teaching new specifications for GCSE, A levels and new Tech levels with first awarding in summer 2017. This is an ambitious programme of change that will take up to around 2020 to complete.

A fresh look at requirements to meet the challenges ahead

A new Chief Regulator is due to take office later in the year and they should be encouraged to take a fresh look at the planned programme and resources required both by schools and by the examining industry, in order to reassure all that resource levels are commensurate with the level of challenge and quality demanded. The fact that 2016 is largely the run out phase of the old specifications presents us with a window of opportunity to anticipate challenges and mitigate risks for 2017 and beyond.

A need to find the bandwidth to advance technology’s contribution

We would also benefit from anticipating the requirements of users and consumers of these reformed qualifications – students/ parents/ universities and employers – failure to do so risks undermining the hard work by everyone to rebuild trust in the system.

For the time being these qualifications remain paper-based supported by traditional textbooks which will be disappointing for some.  Online marking has successfully demonstrated technological interventions in the right places will continue to have a valuable supporting role to play. However, we would hope that there is also bandwidth to evaluate the potential for a technologically advanced future beyond the current cycle of change

Your views? 

What do you think that the future holds in store for qualifications? Is the industry equipped to satisfy the requirements of all its stakeholders? How might technology help?