At this year’s Bett Show, the UK education sector and others from around the world once again seized on the opportunity to explore the future of EdTech – the show’s Bett Futures area having become a must-visit stop for those in attendance.
This year, around 80 EdTech start-ups were displaying their latest solutions, services and tools, giving visitors a taste of the endless possibilities that EdTech can offer for enhancing the teaching and learning experience. And taking place alongside them, was the launch of a new initiative called EDUCATE.
The EDUCATE project
EDUCATE is a partnership formed to support and promote the use of evidence informed education technology. EDUCATE intends to make research accessible to designers and developers in way that enables them to build the best educational technology possible, which will in turn serve to enhance the teaching and learning experience for both professionals and students.
Based at UCL, the enterprise is supported by UCL Engineering, the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), Nesta and F6S. From a Central London hub, the individuals and businesses involved have access to up-to-date research evidence, as well as help and guidance from mentors, researchers and experts. Together with other members of the cohort, they are able to create a community of EdTech practitioners.
In conversation with teachers
EDUCATE will also look to engage with others beyond this circle of EdTech developers and researchers, and hear from those at the frontline. Teachers, headteachers and teaching staff with innovative ideas are being invited to contribute their own concepts and pitches to the scheme, and see how they can be developed and turned into commercially viable products and services.
As Professor Rose Luckin, Professor of Learner Centred Design and Director of EDUCATE, explains, demand for high-quality EdTech continues to grow, as schools try to cope with challenges such as teacher workload, staff recruitment and retention.
“Whether school leaders are sending staff members to us, or joining our cohort themselves, EDUCATE offers a form of CPD, exposing school practitioners to a world beyond the classroom,” she says. “It will provide them with research skills that can be applied to improving teaching, or the day-to-day functioning of the school.”
Dr Kristen Weatherby, a researcher at UCL and EDUCATE’s lead on teacher recruitment, adds, “It will train school staff to be more reactive to academic research, and better able to identify good evidence. We provide Masters-level professional development which can then be used throughout the school. It will help heads to evaluate the EdTech in their schools, make important decisions about its effectiveness and use, and cascade this information down to colleagues.”
Dr Weatherby concludes, “We know that many schools are doing innovative work around EdTech and enhancing their whole-school processes in things like assessment, timetabling and managing their finances. This is an opportunity to take those concepts a step further, and hopefully make their ideas commercially viable.”
Cleo Fatoorehchi is communications coordinator at BESA