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How what you do now can help shape learning technology across sectors

Maren Deepwell is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology
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Following the publication of the report from the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG) in March this year, the question of how technology can effectively be used for learning, teaching and assessment is now being explored by a new group, ETAG.

The Education Technology Action Group (ETAG) was set up in February 2014 by three ministers: Michael Gove, Matthew Hancock and David Willetts. Its mission is to promote the use of digital technology across the schools, further education and higher education sectors for the benefit of students, employers and the wider economy. It is an independent group that builds on the work done by the DfE Education Technology Group and by the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG).

Between now and 23 June, ETAG is seeking your input to help shape the recommendations we can make in a number of different areas including:

• connected institutions;

• data and infrastructure;

• understanding and accrediting learning.

On behalf of ALT and its members I contribute to the work of ETAG and one of the questions that comes up often is what kind of input teachers, learners or leaders can provide to this kind of conversation. Given that ETAG’s vision and mission is broad, ranging from schools to colleges and universities, in short the entire education sector, it can be hard to feel confident that one example is relevant to all contexts.

Here are my thoughts on what I am hoping you will contribute:

First, and foremost, this is an opportunity to make your voice heard. Learners and teachers, technicians and management, have few opportunities to reach those who shape the way we operate and this is an opportunity to voice hopes, concerns or questions.

Even if you don’t think Learning Technology is important to the future of learning and teaching you could for example share why you think so – what is it that you think will make more of a difference or what would you want to happen for technology to become more of a priority in your context?

Contributing examples of what works now, our successes, our lessons learnt, is one of the most valuable types of input as it provides evidence and knowledge on which plans for the future can be built. If it works well for you and your learners, share it so that others can learn from your experience.

However, sharing examples of what does not work, the disasters, the overspend budgets, the absence of engagement – the projects or initiatives that didn’t make a difference, never get used or never even got implemented, that is more useful still.

Using Learning Technology at scale, involving thousands of learners, hundreds of institutions and employers, across the curriculum – that is a big task. Making it work, in my view, depends partly on learning from what we didn’t get right.

In Further Education in particular, I think we have an opportunity to show how creative and innovative approaches to working with diverse communities of learners, employers and other institution can make a real difference to learners’ success in life. Together with fellow ETAG members I hope that you will tell us what you think.

The ETAG conversation is now live at http://etag.support/ and on Twitter #etag until 23 June 2014.

Maren Deepwell is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), an independent membership charity whose mission is to ensure that use of learning technology is effective and efficient, informed by research and practice, and grounded in an understanding of the underlying technologies and their capabilities, and the situations into which they are placed

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