Is today’s educational technology (ed-tech) fit for purpose? That was the question posed during Tuesday 10 November’s panel session. A variety of speakers – academics, business leaders and UCL students – collectively sought to find out if there was an answer.
The evening began with short statements from the eight panellists, effectively answering the question before it had been ‘debated’. The starting points of the eight panellists showed how little consensus there is on how technology should work in education. Some argued that ed-tech needs to be productive for the teacher; it isn’t bespoke enough for what teachers are trying to do and often there is confusion about its purpose. Further comments pointed towards ed-tech’s lack of focus on the user experience.
Beginning with a challenge faced by ed-tech, the panel considered whether collaborative learning was enabled, or hindered, by today’s technology. The CEOs of tech companies on the panel argued for a more systematic, research-based approach to show its impact on collaboration, and suggested that there may be issues within higher education itself that work against its use. They also mentioned that teachers find ed-tech time consuming.
The two UCL students on the panel reported that technology is not currently being used to encourage collaboration, and that if collaboration is happening, it is not necessarily driven by the teacher. Meanwhile the academics lamented that managing content between technologies needs to be improved so that connectivity and collaboration become easier.