by Jeremy Cooper, Managing Director, RM Education
In August 2018, Damian Hinds challenged the tech industry to “launch an education revolution for schools, colleges and universities”. I was delighted to join one of the leading EdTech businesses in this country – RM Education – earlier this month, and it is my goal to do just that – or at least to align the revolution that has already started with the challenges that educational leaders are facing today.
EdTech is evolving fast for good reasons – that technology really can make teachers’ lives easier, it can help schools operate more efficiently, and above all, it can enable better and safer educational experiences and outcomes for pupils.
In my first few days in the job, I have met with many leaders of educational establishments, all of whom have echoed this conundrum – how best to embrace the technology that exists, with the need to enhance learning inside and outside the classroom, and how to do so in a way that future-proofs that establishment for what is just around the corner.
Three areas where I see this having the biggest impact are:
Linking insight to drive pre-emptive actions to deliver better and faster outcomes
Historically, data used in schools has been based around personal information, contact details and attendance information. New software solutions allow this data to become increasingly contextualised permitting schools to delve deeper into the information they hold to explore variables such as deprivation, language proficiencies and mobility.
School leaders have told my colleagues and I that this information gives them a far deeper insight into their students, which in turn helps strengthen the pupil/teacher connection and ultimately shapes how learning takes place.
These tools exist today, but in the future, we see this extending as whole-school data is combined to allow for better analysis and benchmarking of performance internally, nationally and across Trusts. Tools will also allow for learning providers to forecast areas where action and intervention are required – a move towards greater automated actions.
Imagine if classroom-based systems could identify a concerning trend in a particular student’s behaviour and attendance, automatically triggering a prompt for a teacher to contact the parent or carer to seek to understand the root cause.
Using technology to free up teachers to have more time to teach
Teachers today are under pressures, both inside and outside the classroom – from lesson planning to marking, mapping student progress to reporting.
There are several ways in which technology can help improve efficiencies in schools and RM Education is developing new adaptive assessment solutions. These technology solutions allow students to learn and be challenged at a rate that suits their progress – enabling the very best outcomes for learners.
Imagine a system that allows for student work to be quality assured and mapped against the curriculum, lesson plans and exam boards. Such a system would enable greater personalised learning as they track content based on student progress, allowing for calibrated and adaptive multiple-choice tests to focus on areas for improvement. Automated assessments and marking undoubtedly free up time in the classroom – giving teachers more time to teach.
Protecting pupil safety
Online safety tools are constantly being improved to help protect and empower young learners. Whilst technology will never be the complete solution to all safeguarding issues and data concerns – and real intelligence will always play a part in contextualising alerts and issues in school – technology must be considered to be a central pillar in ensuring schools can provide a safe, empowering environment for educational excellence.
Imagine an all-encompassing safeguarding solution which takes input from online and offline user activity, and combines this with wider data sources, automatically detecting and assessing safeguarding incidents, making judgement calls on whether to filter, monitor or alert the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL). Such a solution helps the DSL to focus on those students who are at the greatest risk.
These are all scenarios that are almost with us today, and are all examples of where RM Education is leading the way – in close partnership with many schools, colleges, Multi-Academy Trusts and Local Authorities. This is before I touch on the role that AI – Artificial Intelligence – will play in this sector. That is a topic for another day. I am excited about the future and how my company can help bring these ideas to life.
I will be at BETT 2019 at ExCeL London 23 – 26 London, where I will be joining the RM experts in Meeting Room 12.
For more information on RM visit www.rm.com
gov.uk. 2018. New technology to spearhead classroom revolution. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-technology-to-spearhead-classroom-revolution. [Accessed 16 January 2019].