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Edtech: Money saver or money waster

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April 14, 2018

This week we have a bonus post, thanks to The Guardian’s #techinschool seminar. As you know, I no longer domicile in the Queen’s country, so there was no possibility of attending the seminar, but thanks to Twitter I was able to follow the salient points, and I wanted to share them with you. In this post I am just going to collate the main points made by the panellists, at a later stage I will add my thoughts on Edtech.

But before we look at what was said, let me introduce the panellists. 


  • Kate Hodge, head of content strategy at Jaywing Content and former editor of the Guardian Teacher Network


  • John Galloway, advisory teacher for ICT/special educational needs and inclusion, Tower Hamlets Council
  • Donald Clark, founder, PlanB Learning
  • Michael Mann, senior programme manager, education team, Nesta Innovation Lab
  • Naureen Khalid, school governor and co-founder of @UkGovChat

In order to make it easier to follow the seminar, I will not be embedding the tweets. However you can find them at #techinschools or by following @GuardianTeach

What is on the horizon for Edtech?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be big – Clark

Igaze is the latest in SEN and when it moves into gaming it will become more common – Galloway

Virtual Reality (VR) has a big role to play, to take children where they wouldn’t otherwise be able to go – Galloway

VR can already be used to teach subjects like Physics, but VR isn’t suitable to every topic – Clark

VR can be hard to get your head around. But once you have seen it in practice it is easier – Mann

On procurement, budgets & proof:

If technology was free nobody would question the procurement, but now teachers need to proof need and impact to governors – Khalid

The danger is that procurement is driven by equipment instead of pedagogy – Clark

It is difficult to measure impact. The same iPad in the hands of a good teacher with have a different impact than when you put it in the hands of a bad teacher – Galloway

We can’t just be playing around with this – Clark

Sometimes schools buy tech for the wrong reasons – keeping up with the Joneses – Khalid

Buyers remorse

Start on a small scale, if it work you can expand – Mann

But then you have to give it to the cynic, they are less likely to fall for a cool gadget – Galloway

Problem is most decisions is based on anecdotal evidence. A good or bad teacher can make all the difference. Schools need to find proper research – Clark

It is hard to set up a control group in a school. Which is the better teacher, resources? Lots of variables – Galloway

Most of the available research on EdTech is funded by tech companies – Mann

The idea that every child have a smart phone with them is causing lots of nervousness. It has the potential to be used in the wrong way – Galloway

I don’t believe that tablets are useful in the classroom, however they can be outside the class – Clark

I don’t think it should be Yes or No to technology. It is all about finding the right tool for each learning activity. 

The right tool

There has been a change  in the way classrooms operate and technology is supporting that change – Galloway

You need to ask yourself what is the problem you are trying to solve, and find the technology that fits with the pedagogy – Khalid

Education is risky anyway, introducing something new can be invigorating – Galloway

Somebody always have to be first. Somebody had to trial the things we now know work well – Galloway

Teachers should be allowed to choose apps to buy and share with each other what work and what didn’t – Galloway

On 21st century skills

We need to ask what jobs there will be in the future – Mann

What so people mean by 21st century skills? Do they think that jobs that exist now will just disappear? – Khalid

It would be ludicrous to completely ignore technology in schools – Clark

We do not need to teach every child coding, that is faddish not strategic – Clark

If some teachers are enthusiastic, we should use them to build expertise – Mann

And to close it all off

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