Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Future of Educational Technology in the UK

I don't usually post about an idea I have. More usually policy papers or research makes me think about posting a response. Apologies then for explaining a few ideas that have been developing in my head for the last few months.

I am worried about what is going to happen if education sees a dramatic cut in everything but frontline services. The UK is at the forefront of the introduction of technology into the state educational sector. Very substantial amounts have been invested over the past 15 years. During that period professionals working in the state sector and in private educational companies have gained collective wisdom, knowledge and experience in making the most of technology in schools. That collective knowledge has only been partially captured by our universities and by government bodies such a Becta. If a new government were to make big cuts in educational technology spending the UK would risk losing the value that resides within this group. I imagine a large number of teachers would slowly withdraw from innovative use of technology if the funding fell away and school resources became more aged and unreliable. A number of those working to support schools, or selling consultancy or products to the school sector might well go abroad. Within a matter of months the vibrant community of practice that exists across a number of sectors would begin to whither. This seems to me to be a very negligent disposal of the capital invested in education technology. I think there is a case to be made that the greatest and most valuable asset the past 15 years of investment has created is the body of professionals with a multitude of perceptive insights and experiences around schools ICT.
Parallel to the development of this highly valuable resource, the UK has funded the growth of some very successful educational technology companies that are now beginning to sell their products around the world. Promethean is a good example. They now sell interactive whiteboards globally. The company would not have grown half so quickly, or perhaps not at all without the investment in whiteboards made by the government. If an incoming government cuts away the funding for schools ICT we may not see many future examples.
I think we are very quick to denigrate the progress made with educational technology in this country (I've been guilty myself). Visitors from many other western states are very impressed by where we have got to. I suppose I want to propose that those involved in the developments of the last 15 years build a campaign to highlight the precious resource we possess and the very great dangers in losing it through a period of minimal funding.

1 comment:

  1. Consider me part of that campaign - it would be a shameful waste and a major leap backwards.


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