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Top EdTech predicitions for 2023

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RM Education’s Managing Director, Jason Tomlinson, shares his EdTech predictions for 2023

Both schools and colleges have felt the impact of the education funding squeeze this year. As a consequence, education’s Senior Leadership Teams will increasingly be tasked with investing those reduced finances in the most effective ways. Fortunately, there are a wealth of new technologies available to help.

From digitally transforming assessment methods to reduce teacher workloads and better incentivise students, to taking better care of a school’s data to help plan for future eventualities, educators can expect there to be lots of opportunities for growth and improvement in 2023.

With that in mind, Jason Tomlinson, Managing Director at RM Education, shares his top predictions for the sector in the new year.

Jason Tomlinson, Managing Director at RM Education, comments:

“There is a lot of uncertainty in the current economic climate, with the cost-of-living crisis and energy crisis both rumbling on and impacting teachers and parents alike. But with a new Prime Minister and Education Secretary now firmly at the helm, there’s a sense of optimism as we move into the new year that the proverbial ship will steady, and progress can resume.

“What will be front of mind for educators will be making sure that, in a changing world, their priorities are evolving in line with the digital economy and that they’re adequately preparing students for the digital-first economy. As technology experts, it’s important that we help to support institutions with the expertise and devices in the best way we can.”

A digital strategy will become crucial

It’s no secret that the pandemic fast-tracked the digital transformation of the education sector. Looking ahead, however, it’s important that this progress doesn’t slow, or peter off altogether, in 2023.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen, its crucial schools devise their very own digital strategy for the new education age. After all, digitising education is not about peppering classrooms with devices, it’s about transforming how the school runs altogether – making it more efficient in terms of employee time and overall costs. Unlike in the past, going digital now involves many considerations like cybersecurity, privacy, and inclusion – and these cannot be resolved with one Google search. A suitable digital strategy takes time to plan and needs expert guidance.

In 2023, technology is going to be about using automation and data in teaching and learning to help teachers manage their workloads and contribute to students’ overall development – but that needs to be prioritised at a board level. IT leaders need to research and work with the right partners who can advise and guide them through technical issues and accessibility needs and help turn technology into education impact.

More data means more threats

In 2022 itself, 41% of primary schools and 70% of secondary schools identified breaches to their security, which is higher than in 2021. Around six in ten (62%) higher education institutions reported experiencing breaches or attacks at least weekly. Seventy-one per cent of higher education institutions experience a negative outcome, such as a loss of money or data from a breach. Half (50%) stated their accounts or systems were compromised and used for illicit purposes. 

Vulnerable data can be compromised, and because teachers rely on emails and other critical online learning tools to design programmes, an assault can put teaching on hold. The emphasis should be on primary and secondary school cybersecurity readiness, with a significant emphasis focus on building an incident response plan that covers numerous scenarios, such as ransomware and other attacks.

Schools must ensure that they keep their students and teachers safe, but also how they protect their information and assets. Most schools do not build their own data warehouse, so they need to invest time in conducting a risk assessment, choosing the right vendors and review their privacy policy. While cybersecurity in education is essential for preventing financial loss and disruption, it 2023 will be critical for protecting students from harm.

Accessibility and inclusion will become powerful

After this summer’s GCSE results, the gap between disadvantaged students and their classmates is the biggest in a decade, and it is just widening. In 2023, accessibility and inclusion should be top of the agenda for educators. It’s imperative that schools make accessibility a part of their digital strategy going forward and train teachers accordingly.

The Department of Education found that children from disadvantaged homes are far more likely to be absent and another report from the Education Data Lab stated there is a positive correlation between absenteeism and KS2 results.

Ensuring that all essential learning resources and class discussions are equally accessible can help students avoid falling behind in their studies due to a lack of access. This can be resolved by implementing a digital strategy where all students are able to have the same access to all the resources.

Having the ability to look at a web page or Word document and turn it into an immersive ready for people with special educational needs (SEND) is very powerful. Even simpler things like being able to translate any given document when English is not one’s first language. This is another compelling way to engage with parents and help reach the students wherever they are.

There is a big equity concern around the appropriate access to devices. While some schools are getting closer to having one to one device schemes for their students, it is not easy to fund them, and they raise sustainability concerns.

Going into 2023, schools must rethink their accessibility and inclusion plans and should chalk out their objectives and goals to come to the best possible strategy that benefits their students and teachers while being sustainable.

Sustainability will become part of the conversation

One of the clear themes from 2022 COP27 is a growing interest in mobilising climate financing, green hydrogen, storage technological advancements, and other underutilised types of renewable energy output. Nonetheless, the UK’s move to renewable energy has sparked heated discussion in politics and the media. Technology can play a significant role in the fight to reduce the effects of carbon emissions and global warming.

Every school has a responsibility to play in tackling the climate crisis and teaching today’s youth how to be better citizens for tomorrow. This is why schools must establish ESG goals and begin reporting. ESG standards address a wide range of issues, including anti-discrimination and equal opportunity, as well as rigorous reporting on employee rights, gender balance, and corporate governance. The purpose is for all interested parties to understand the school’s progress, accomplishments, and future objectives. An emphasis on diversity, particularly while developing your action plan, is critical to success.

Sustainability is a growing topic in schools, but it is yet to reach its peak – it is only beginning to become a factor for people. Small changes like moving servers from a room to the cloud can drastically reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. Most big vendors like Microsoft and AWS are already running their data centres in extraordinarily energy efficient ways. In 2023, reducing hardware like servers reduces waste and will allow schools to move towards a sustainable future.

2023 is the year to embrace innovation

Introducing technology in education allows parents to support their children as it gives them the ability to be involved in the learning process and be aware of what’s being taught. As we’ve seen in 2022, when teachers use technology to host classes, the same technology allows them to automate the sharing of those materials in the background which reduced their admin work. While the set-up might be tricky, automation of teaching materials streamlines and simplifies communication with parents.

Experiential learning is on the rise with many trusts using AR and VR to teach concepts. Think of being able to have a mixed reality view of the human heart in a visceral sense. There’s already a lot of artificial intelligence (AI) being deployed in education, from simple things like speech recognition, and image recognition to smart recommendations.

Workload and work life balance in the sector is a problem in the education sector, and so, in 2023, institutions need to deploy technology intelligently and automate tasks.

Remote learning isn’t going away any time soon, and our classroom environments will continue to evolve. While schools have limited budgets and resources, what is most vital right now are adaptable and scalable solutions that will limit cyber breaches while also supporting instructors and the young brains they educate.

When it comes to technology adoption in the Education sector, we need to look at broad systemic elements as well as grassroots adoption. It will not be easy, but digital transformation is the future, and the Education sector needs to be a part of this movement too.

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