The ‘Edtech’ Part of the UK Digital Strategy
Below are the ‘edtech’ commitments direct from the UK Digital Strategy released today 1/3/17
Education technology (EdTech) is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK, accounting for 4% of all digital companies, and UK businesses have become world leaders in developing innovative new technologies for schools.2 The potential benefits when implemented correctly are considerable, both in teaching and in school administration. We want to make sure our pupils, their parents and teachers are able to make use of these opportunities.
We will do this by helping schools to access, buy and use the right technology in the right way for their needs. We will help develop the evidence base on what works in EdTech, we will improve the use of data across the education system and we will help those schools without basic broadband to get a connection.
UK schools currently spend £900 million annually on EdTech3 and we want remove the hurdles and challenges leaders face in making effective and well informed decisions when purchasing technology. To support schools we will:
- investigate how we can better test technology to identify what works through faster, more agile, evaluation methods. The Education Endowment Foundation is well placed to build on their gold standard randomised control trials in this area, and we will be supporting them in this work
- better support schools to make informed decisions by building on the existing cloud guidance
- support schools to be more cost effective purchasers of technology through a series of aggregated procurement opportunities for tablet, desktop and laptop devices
To realise the potential benefits of the use of technology in education, schools may require help connecting to modern digital infrastructure and a suitable broadband connection. We will work to understand the needs of schools and address the barriers they face getting access to modern digital infrastructure.
Access to technology and infrastructure however will not solve this challenge by itself, and as mentioned earlier in this Digital Strategy, digital skills will play a key role in supporting educators to realise the benefits of technology whilst ensuring that the next generation have the digital skills they need for work.
Technology also offers opportunities to make efficiency savings, we have recently prototyped a new ‘Data Exchange’ system to simplify how we collect data from the sector into the department and this is built upon a common and open set of standards. This will:
- enable interoperability across the sector, by which we mean that EdTech products will be able to “talk to each other”, reducing the need for data administrators to enter data manually multiple times across their internal systems
- provide a single service for all data collections based upon APIs and user-friendly portal access which will simplify current processes and reduce the administrative burden across the sector
Over the next 12 months we will continue to work with schools and software suppliers to further develop this prototype with the intent to expand this to all schools during 2018.
We also want to allow better use of the data we hold for academic research. At all times, the need to preserve appropriate privacy and security will remain paramount and will be non-negotiable. We will:
- work with the Office for National Statistics to make research samples of the National Pupil Database available through the Virtual Microdata Laboratory (VML) service, and provide secure access to the service from multiple sites
- work with the Open Data Institute to develop a secure way of allowing users to make use of the data we hold, whilst preventing sensitive information being seen by the user. This will facilitate the development of high quality evidence and research, contributing to our understanding of what works to improve outcomes in education