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Ed tech promises ‘gigantic wave of change'

Technology will create a “gigantic wave of change” in education, but adoption won't be instant, a panel of top education executives has agreed.

Speaking at the EdTech Europe conference last week, John Martin, chief executive of Sanoma Learning, Rob Grimshaw, head of TES Global, and Karine Allouche Salanon, chief executive of Pearson English Business Solutions, agreed trends like big data would change education dramatically. 

But a number of issues are yet to be overcome, including concerns over privacy and the development of effective business models. Currently, of the $4 trillion spent on education and training globally only 10% is digital. 

Grimshaw said: “Companies that are prepared to think broadly will succeed in digital transformation, and companies which are narrow minded in the way they think about the impact of tech are going to have issues over time. 

"But the most difficult aspect of digital transformation is that the business models which underpin everything can change totally as you move into the digital space… in the end you might have to recreate everything from scratch."

Martin claimed that in the K-12 classroom today, about 2% of spend goes on learning resources and about 98% on the classroom experience.

“I guess disruption in both areas will happen, but there will probably be a bit more intensity on the 2% of the learning resources, and the reform and disruption of the 98% of the classroom experience will happen, but it will be a very long journey,” he said.

Salanon said tech could help forge tie-ups with industry, but stressed "digitalisation is not the final end game but about the value created for customers".
“What are people learning for? They are learning to get a job, they are learning to find their next opportunity," she said.  

“Like any disruption, whoever brings us most value is going to be most successful.” 

The conference focused on opportunities for ed tech providers in Europe, with participation from companies like Pluralsight, Samsung, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and McGraw Hill Education.

But barriers to adoption are significant, according to the OECD, with only 37% of European schools having access to high-end digital equipment, ranging from 5% in Poland to 100% in Norway. 

The European Union adds that most teachers at primary and secondary level don’t consider themselves “confident or able to teach digital skills effectively” and 70% would like more ICT training. 

But speaking before the conference, Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet, co-founder of EdTech Europe, said a "tech revolution" lay ahead.

"As we witnessed the digitisation of the media industry via the profusion of new content, audience fragmentation, data centricity and the convergence between content and platform players, so will they impact the education in market, leading to a raft of opportunities for innovators in ed tech."

Posted on: 23/06/2015

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