Keri McWilliams

EdTech: Our passport to the future

With BETT 2019 just around the corner, we’re reflecting on why EdTech is so important to teachers AND students in this digital age. But let’s go back to basics and ask a fundamental question - why is EdTech the future?

We tend to consider EdTech as a new innovation. Constant technological advances create the illusion that we’re living in the EdTech era, finding new ways to push educational capabilities to new levels. Yes, it is important, and yes, it is the future - but we can’t underestimate where we have come from, and what we have achieved so far. By doing so, we can fully appreciate where we may go in the future. 

So when did it begin from the student perspective? EdTech can be traced back to the use of the Slide Rule back in 1654 - used by scientists and engineers up to the early 1970s. But that was a long time ago - and this could be an extremely long blog if we work forwards from here. So, when did it begin for you? 

Cast your memory back to when you were in school

Did you use technology? Was it a big part of your school life? For me, it was a treat to use one of the two computers that sat by the side of the classroom for 10 minutes at the end of the day. I saw it as a reward, but for the school, they had already realised that this machine could have an impact on my learning (even if it was in a small capacity at that time). I still remember wracking my brains to think of a question to Ask Jeeves. 

For the teacher, they were using a limited variety of tools to try and make learning fun and interesting - showing videos on a TV and VCR on wheels, using the overhead projector, and even introducing IT into the curriculum. It was always on the periphery, but never at the heart of learning. 

Today, EdTech is fully integrated into lesson content planning AND even acts as a communication tool to update parents with student progress. Through the use of the internet, apps, assistive technology and other forms of EdTech tools, it is hard to believe that we’ve come so far in such a short period of time. 

With BETT approaching, it’s time for us all to learn, stay updated and continue to be swept up by the latest offerings. 

2019 Trends

If you know us here at Texthelp, then you’ll know that we always like to be ahead of the curve, to offer our own technological advancements, and make our own predictions for the coming year. Here are a few suggestions from ‘chief geek’ Martin McKay (our Chief Technology Officer): 
  • IT costs continuing to fall: Access to technology is getting better. Laptops are going to continue to get more powerful and that means that it's going to be more reasonable for every child to have a device in school.
  • Big data / learning analytics: Over the last year at Texthelp, we've been able to create a set of national norms for writing for the US and we're planning to expand that next year to include Canada, Australia and hopefully the UK too.  This means that teachers are going to be able to see how their students are writing compared to the national norm.
  • Machine learning: Children learning how to develop machine learning technologies in class and then implement them is something that would have been inconceivable ten years ago - now it's just the norm! Google have also introduced a new thing called AIY - the Artificial Intelligence Yourself version of DIY, which allows the user to use kits and devices to build intelligent systems that see, speak, and understand.

Driving progression and improving learner outcomes

The key theme in all of these trends for 2019 link to student empowerment. And our strapline for this year’s event is ‘Driving progression and improving learner outcomes’. We’ll be showcasing some of our latest innovations that will help students to learn independently - helping educators provide equal access, remove barriers to learning, as well as offer meaningful teacher feedback in a way that benefits both instructor and student.  

Pop by stand C141 and see how we’re setting standards for writing, and making maths digital - as well as making improvements to our other much loved literacy solutions. 

We want all students to reach their learning potential through the latest innovations with EdTech, improving their ability to read, write, research and communicate with confidence. And with your help - we’ll continue to do just that. 


Where do you think technology will take us in the next two decades? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Pop by stand C141 and share your perspective. 

To read more about our trend predictions, check out Martin’s The Future of Education Technology: Trends for 2019 blog. 

See you at BETT. 


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