UCL EDUCATE has kicked off London EdTech Week with a workshop for some of the world’s best EdTech start-ups and entrepreneurs.
Representatives from more than 30 countries descended on its headquarters at the UCL Knowledge Lab for the Future Ideas Summit and an afternoon of discussion, collaboration and networking, ahead of today’s EdTechXGlobal’s Global SuperLeague final, which will see companies pitching to investors.
The workshop yielded discussion about education systems across the globe, and how individual countries were responding to the advent of technology in schools. Participants discussed how EdTech was pioneering a more personalised approach to learning, which was often beyond the control of what was being taught and learned in schools.
This meant that schools needed to focus on teaching skills such as critical thinking to enable students to be discerning about how they use technology, because much of what they accessed was beyond the control of teachers.
The workshop also discussed how global education problems, such as teacher shortages and not enough school places, could be addressed using technology as a solution.
New ways of learning
The entrepreneurs acknowledged that agency was key to how students learn, and that increasingly, learners were using on-line tools and technology to access information. This included resources such as YouTube, which are easily accessible and popular with children and adults alike, and which are used to learn new skills.
Jake Whiddon, from StudyCat Ltd, who is based in Shanghai, said the event demonstrated that EdTech developers globally were tackling similar challenges, with similar motivation to address these.
“All over the world there seems to be a real convergence between learning at school, and at home, with parents playing a key role in the process,” he said. “It was fascinating to hear how other countries are innovating and dealing with the challenges we all face.”
Eva Stavrinaki, from ibGenius, who is attending London EdTech Week from Greece, said: “What we are seeing is a real shift in personalised learning, which gives individuals much more choice about how they learn and what they use. It is a mix and match education that learners can now access.
“It is clear from what participants were saying that education is now very fragmented around the world, and that we need to ensure that the EdTech we are developing is effective.”
Evaluating the impact of EdTech
A second session during the workshop examined the impact of EdTech, and the language developers needed to learn around research and efficacy. Dr Alison Clark-Wilson, UCL EDUCATE’s principal research lead, who led the discussion, said the attention paid to EdTech impact in teaching and learning appeared to vary between countries.
“We were absolutely delighted to host such a distinguished group of EdTech developers, and to share our knowledge and expertise around efficacy and impact in the development of EdTech,” she said.
“With entrepreneurs from 37 countries represented we learned much about their own individual contexts and education cultures, and that some developers were working in quite an isolated environment.
“We were able to use our UCL EDUCATE approaches to try to get them to think more deeply about the impact of the technology they are building. This is what made the workshop so interesting and valuable. It appears that programmes like UCL EDUCATE, with its focus on research and evidence, could be in demand around the world.”