Wednesday, March 19, 2014
How to solve the great edtech challenge
Earlier today our CEO John Fallon delivered the closing keynote address at Microsoft's Global Learning Forum. He used the platform to describe the power that technology can have to transform global education standards, why it has so far failed to live up to its potential, and why the solution calls for the world's technologists, entrepreneurs and educators to join together under a common purpose.
It is very inspiring to have the privilege of spending some time with so many talented and committed people from so many countries all around the world--all focused on tackling one of the biggest challenges facing our societies and our economies. We may all describe that challenge a little differently but we all know what it is -- can we apply technology to help us double the amount of really deep, high value learning in our societies at no greater cost?
That's the challenge that all of us in education face, isn't it? How can we do more--and better--and most often, do it with less?
The doubling part may seem a little ambitious, but consider this. In most countries that participate in PISA-and I'd be pretty confident that this applies to all those that don't, too--if you could get all schools, with similar social demographics, even close to the highest performing comparable ones, you would comfortably achieve that goal of doubling learning outcomes. And, that, I think, is the challenge to all of us--how can technology help us to replicate educational excellence at scale? For, even in the most difficult of circumstances, it is relatively easy to find a good school or great teaching. The hard part is scaling that success across the whole school or the entire system. So, in the next few minutes, I want to try to synthesize an argument--to draw together a number of threads--that all of us are grappling with, in varying forms, around the world.
1. All member of our society now require a higher level of educational attainment--a deeper learning--than at any point in human history.
2. That for all the great energy, investment, and innovation, so much of which is on display at this event--we are not, yet, really applying technology to meet that challenge effectively--certainly not consistently or at anything like global scale.
3. We can do it--and in some places--we are doing it. And it happens most often through some form of blended learning--where teachers, students, and data work together to create an active learning environment.
4. For us to do it consistently, and at scale, requires all of us--governments, education authorities, educators, learners, their parents, learning companies like Pearson, global technology companies like Microsoft, edtech startups, not for profits, everybody involved--to rally around an agreed framework and a common purpose.