By Geoff Stead, Director of Digital & New Products at Cambridge English Language Assessment
Education empowers. Education controls.
Education opens doors. Education excludes.
Education is both the key and the weapon.
How do you see the use of technology in education? It can be a tool to empower teachers and reach new learners. It can be about doing what we already do more efficiently. Is it a force for good, for bad or for profit?
EdTech is a booming industry at the moment. Industry analysts predict a 17% growth rate with a total value of $252 billion by 2020 (a massive 5% of the global education spend). Needless to say this has drawn a wide range of enthusiasts into the sector. Some are genuinely passionate about the power of tech to empower and reach new learners, while others are more motivated by the revenue potential of an increasingly global market place.
Our area, language learning, is particularly buoyant as it transcends traditional school-based learning and moves into the consumer space. In our increasingly globalised world, learning another language can dramatically increase your life chances. We help many millions of English language students across the planet improve their language skills for international study, for work and for travel.
As part of that, we’ve seen some great EdTech success stories, as well as many spectacular failures. Many of those failures would undoubtedly have been well-intentioned, but somehow ended up being entirely inappropriate for the context. Sadly, there are several examples of ambitious tablet/laptop rollouts in schools that failed to get any local buy-in or offer teacher-support. A recurring theme of these optimistic failures is where enthusiasm for the technology ended up overriding the real needs of local students and educators.
DisruptEd is your chance to get this right, and make a meaningful difference. Together with Cambridge Judge Business School, we are running an EdTech support weekend on 3-5 March 2017. It’s a bit like a business building hackathon. If you have an education-based startup and are looking for business guidance (or want to help with someone else’s), this weekend is jam packed with mentors and business experts offering their time and coaching for free.
As Spider-Man (and others) have said, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Use this weekend to make sure that your idea does good. We hope that with your enthusiasm and our experience in entrepreneurship, mobile learning, m4d (mobile for development) and EdTech we’ll be able to work together, and help make sure your business idea is one of those that finds the magic sweet spot between commercial success, and real, meaningful impact on people’s lives.
Our EdTech top tips?
- One size never fits all. What works in Asian education is unlikely to magically work in America. Plan for local engagement.
- Tools not systems. To really make a difference in education, it is much simpler to build tools that offer new superpowers to teachers, or to learners. Building entire learning systems is tough, and rarely works
- Keep the user at the heart of your idea. Not all technologies are good. Make sure you are solving a real problem
- Make a difference
And of course… join us at DisruptEd in Cambridge on 3-5 March 2017.