Global EdTech Trends - Interview with Speakers Header v3.png PenelopeTainton_WesternCapeGovernment-1.png

What do you like about your role?

It is my greatest joy to work on projects that make a real and tangible difference to the lives of people, and more particularly to young people. My current responsibilities mean that I am immersed in activities that seek to improve opportunities for all learners in our Province. The two Western Cape Game Changers which seek to introduce eLearning into our 1500 schools, and to provide quality programmes in an extended school day, both serve to ignite a love of learning, improve the environment, build whole child development both in and after school, and reduce risk-taking behaviour. And most importantly, given the context of our South African history, I am excited that I can be part of something that seeks to close the inequality gap between those who have resources, and those who still suffer the longer term effects of a previously segregated society with massively differentiated education and economic offerings.

Share three predictions on the future of Edtech.

  1. Teachers will increasingly embrace EdTech as a tool to enhance teaching and learning, and not as a threat in their classroom, and that technology is meaningfully integrated into the classroom in a way that improves the teaching environment and makes lessons engaging and exciting.
  2. I look forward to a richness of teacher and learner level data becoming effortlessly available through the technology and applications utilised in schools and classrooms that will inform interventions to support and develop teachers, and to meet learners where they are, removing learning blockages and encouraging deep learning.
  3. We will succeed when every learner has access to a personal device that will bridge the resources available at school, in the extended school day, in transit and at home. Learners will therefore have (near) uninterrupted access to the internet and applications that provide adaptive learning. In this way, learners will constantly have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips, allowing them to close learning gaps, progress at their own pace, and succeed. This will however be dependent on both technology, data and applications becoming more affordable, particularly to developing countries and communities.

What technologies do you believe have the potential to transform the education industry?

Developments in Artificial Intelligence will continue to improve offerings in the EdTech environment. These tools allow for self-paced and targeted learning, addressing the individual learner’s needs.

Increasing availability of augmented and virtual reality tools mean that we can immerse learners in environments and topics that are not part of their daily experience. These open up new worlds to kids, particularly those from impoverished backgrounds, and provide the opportunities to expand their horizons and dream of futures that would otherwise not be on the radar for them.

Improvements in mobile technology offerings open up opportunities for more affordable access.

High speed internet provision is the backbone that supports all eLearning, and there is great scope for improvements in the African context.

As we are celebrating out 5th anniversary of EdTechXEurope, we are looking at the key trends over the past 5 years in edtech. What would you say have been the key areas of change that are impacting edtech today? Anything unexpected that surprised you? Trends that were overhyped and never met their expected potential?

As teachers embrace eLearning in their classrooms, their contribution to a curated library of digital resources becomes critical given the practical application that they are able to bring to this task.

Constant improvements in devices for teachers and learners support the ease of integration into the classroom, and additions such as active stylus and other attachment devices for kids with special needs to improve access to learning, shift the environment, opening up new opportunities.

The establishment of Start-up Incubators has the potential to expand the quality and quantity of EdTech innovation and resources.

I think that this environment provides for constant innovation, new products and projects, and so has the scope to daily us surprise with new and unexpected developments. That is what makes it at once so exciting and so challenging. As a result, I’m not sure that we can say that there are trends that are overhyped or which did not deliver. One must accept that there we are constantly learning, improving and shifting the boundaries, and that every new development at each stage of the journey adds to the knowledge and experience.

Why is it important for all players in the edtech ecosystem to continuously connect, network and learn from each other?

The EdTech environment is a rapidly evolving and changing one. There are new developments around infrastructure, technology, tools, content, teacher development on a daily basis. In effect this means that role-players in this space are constantly in a testing phase, with new innovations overtaking implementation at a rapid rate. It is critical to share what is available, to share best practice, to brainstorm what works and what does not work in the education space, as we impact on children’s futures.

In addition, the specific needs of those responsible for educating learners and developing teachers should inform future developments in the industry so that there is an alignment of practical and useful tools and technology with the actual practices in edTech.

When you think about joining EdTechXEurope this year, what are you looking forward to? What makes you excited about our event in London?

My experience of attending EdTechX last year in London was eye-opening, and exposed me to the kind of work happening around the world in this space. There was real food for thought, the ability to connect with people working on really innovative ways to find new solutions, and the comfort of some genuine success stories to reinforce the work that we are attempting to do in South Africa.

In addition, the experience led to some real and concrete networks and connections that have translated into real delivery, supporting our project to enhance the teaching and learning of all Western Cape learners, particularly in maths and languages, through the use of technology.

The week of activities offers even more scope to share best practice, share experiences, and connect with people committed to improving and landing educational technology solutions in schools.

Join Penelope and our 100+ thought leader speakers at EdTechXEurope 2017 on 20 - 21st June 2017 - reserve your place now >> 

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