Summit shows UK edtech effect

Godfather of UK gaming Ian Livingstone, digital minister Matt Hancock and national technology advisor Liam Maxwell are among the heavyweight speakers at the second annual Edtech UK global summit in London this week, as education technology shows it has the government’s ear.

crystal venueWhile parents and schools alike worry about the impact of smartphones on their children’s health and wellbeing, it’s clear that the worlds of education and digital are coming ever closer together in an effort to improve teaching and learning. That coming together has created a global marketplace worth £250bn.

It’s in this context that Edtech UK, the strategic body set up to accelerate the growth of the UK’s education technology sector, steps up to offer its annual Edtech UK global summit. The event, now in its second year, brings together startup innovators, business leaders, policymakers and educators alike for a full-house day of debate and sharing of ideas.

Edtech UK was set up by parent body the Education Foundation, itself created six years ago as a cross-party think tank dedicated to education reform, technology and innovation.

In a report earlier this year Edtech UK set out five key priorities for policy change in its Edtech Vision 2020 report, covering Access and infrastructure, data, jobs and growth, digital skills and talent, and impact.

The Vision 2020 report fed directly into the government’s digital strategy, released in February, which noted that “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.”

“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.”

Those new technologies include artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, as well as a plethora of smartphone tools used by both teachers and pupils. Despite the increasing number of schools taking the decision to ban smartphones, the rise in mobile technology to aid teaching and learning continues.

At the summit event at east London’s Crystal, EdTech UK draws on an impressive education policy network to bring together speakers for keynotes, panels and debates. Edech UK rightly recognises the role of policy in digital skills and literacy. Livingstone, co-founder of the Games Workshop and Fighting Fantasy, also authored the influential NextGen digital skills report.

In a session on impact in education, delegates will hear from the Omidyar Network, MyTutor and Pearson.

Edtech UK also launches its first Edtech 50, celebrating  people, products and projects that are making a difference across the education technology landscape. “Too often, we ignore our genuine and positive successes, as we all map out the edtech evolution,” says Edtech UK chief executive Ty Goddard.

The Edtech UK global summit happens on Friday November 24.