From education to employment

Driving Digital Strategy: calling for Government support for #EdTech uptake

Paul McKean, Head of FE and Skills, Jisc

The UK has both a precocious capability and critical mass in EdTech.

Global EdTech market is predicted to reach £243.8bn by 2022 and the UK is home to some of the world’s leading EdTech firms.

Yet we see the same issues time and again which prevents Further Education institutions from realising the true potential of tech.

Colleges’ infrastructure and connectivity is not a level playing field. Many find it difficult harness data and analytics due to a lack of common standards, and we see an impedance mismatch between EdTech start-ups and education institutions.

Perhaps even more importantly, the development of digital skills in our teaching and support staff have not been adequately prioritised, and an evidence base of “what works” in EdTech is lacking – along with shared resources that educators can tap into.

Formal education technology strategy

For these reasons, we believe that a formal education technology strategy offers the potential for educators get the best from technology for their learners. Without a strategic approach, institutions are more likely to face fragmentation, less likely to adopt new technology and could even suffer negative learning outcomes.

That is why we at Jisc welcome the Education Secretary’s five-point ambition set out in the summer, which seeks to address the positive application of edtech in schools as well as further and higher education sectors, where insight and guidance is required. We’re working with our members to help capture the intelligence and understanding needed to show the great opportunity that edtech can offer them.

Jisc is also engaging in regular discussion and debate with educators and industry on other ways that support can be offered. For example, we contributed to the Driving Digital Strategy in Further Education report from Canvas recently, collaborating with a number of colleges and experts to share recommendations.

We see numerous examples of FE institutions jumping ahead of the game in integrating the latest and best tech services and products into the way they teach, some of which are highlighted in a Jisc report on the subject. And FE’s close alignment with industry means that institutions are often directly responsible for equipping students with the digital skills required to operate in a fast-changing employment landscape.

And yet, employment of existing and emerging tech is not widespread because of the barriers caused by a lack of funding and resources. And so, reports like this one are important in making sure this important sector is top of mind for policy makers when it comes to setting digital strategy, as well as being important for other sectors to learn from examples of good practice in this field.

Paul McKean, Head of Further Education (FE) and Skills, Jisc

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