The recent Westminster Education Forum (WEF) event ‘Using Technology in Education’ was a varied and lively session, but without the benefit of Ministers, the DfE or Ofqual present we were in the dark about how recommendations in the featured Education Technology Action Group (ETAG) report had been received.
Given this, extracts from the speech given by the Secretary of State at BETT were shared by Altain in the published transcript. The indications are that the relationships between technology, assessment and accountability are deemed important with an emphasis on productivity; however, the speech pointedly provides no direction on ‘learning in the classroom’. Is there a message we should take from this?
Certainly a recurring theme threaded throughout discussions at the recent WEF keynote seminar was of the strong influence of the accountability/assessment regime on technology adoption. All the signs are of this influence growing stronger still in the new policy environment.
Speech extracts by the Secretary of State at BETT 2015
“A year ago, my predecessor was one of 3 ministers responsible for establishing the Education and Technology Action Group to investigate how digital technology might empower teachers and learners in new and exciting ways.
I look forward to studying the group’s report, which will be published today. But as I do so, I will be looking for ideas in a number of areas where I think technology can transform the educational landscape.
The first is accountability.
We need to reform the way schools are held to account. We have an analogue system in a digital age. League tables are important and an Ofsted report will always be an essential part of the service, but there is much more we can do.
As we inject further choice and competition to the school system, parents and students will rightly demand more information from us so that they can exercise that choice effectively. We need to consider how the era of ‘big data’ can help to provide it.
Already we have begun to produce destination data on school leavers to identify where they end up. We aim to include them in league tables by 2017. In future, we could try to link qualifications to tax data too in order to demonstrate the true worth of certain subjects.
The second area I would like to look at is assessment and reporting.
John Hattie’s work in New Zealand demonstrates what is possible. By using technology to administer regular standardised tests, he has transformed the way children learn and the way parents are able to monitor their child’s progress. This is vital. One of the major concerns that busy parents raise with me is the challenge of staying on top of what’s going on in their child’s school.
If we can find a way for all schools to use technology to improve the flow of information – ensuring the information parents need is there when and where they need it – this will help to ease some of this pressure.
Finally, I believe technology can play a critical role in helping to deliver one of my major priorities: reducing teacher workload. My recent ‘workload challenge’ initiative – which received more than 44,000 responses from teachers across the country – identified a number of key drivers of teacher workload.
Two of the most prominent were planning and marking, and there is so much that technology can do to streamline the processes here. There is so much more we might do. I have not had time to explore the role technology might play in changing how children learn in the classroom, though Liz Sproat from Google will do so shortly.
But we are fortunate in this country to have some of the best teachers, best schools and best educational technology companies in the world. And I am keen to ensure we do more in our own schools to harness the power and potential of ed tech”
Given difficulties reported by the ETAG team in gaining traction on report recommendations with ministers and the regulator is there a message we should take from this? Does the ed tech community need to rethink the relationship between assessment and technology? What are the solutions that ed tech providers need to offer to secure business in the new policy environment?
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