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Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Digital learning technology: Converging promise and potential

There is a history of 30 years or more in the use of digital tools for learning. Yet too often the promise is not realised in terms of robust evidence of impact at scale.

For the last two years we have been trialling new technologies with schools across the UK. We've piloted new ways of providing teachers with feedback on their practice as part of 'The Visible Classroom' project. We've worked with schools in England and Scotland to flip classrooms and find out how online video can change their dynamic. With Third Space Learning, the EEF and York Trials Unit we're working with 60 schools to rigorously assess the impact of 'Remote Tutoring' delivered across the internet.

Through this work we have developed our thinking on the impact of digital technology for learning, and particularly where the opportunities may lie for future developments in this area. I've distilled this thinking in a paper, 'Digital learning technology: Converging promise and potential'.

This paper analyses the dual conversations by those seeking research evidence of impact in education, and those identifying promising uses of learning technology. It sets out a framework for thinking about how these different narratives can converge, and some examples of how they already are. It also sets out the huge potential that digital technology has for the area of assessment, and where we think the next developments in this field should be focused.

Digital technology presents new and exciting opportunities for learning. There is a need to explore and pilot the cutting edge innovations. However, there is already a rich evidence base of what makes an impact on teaching and learning. This paper sets out in detail the position that to develop digital learning tools with impact, we should be building on this existing evidence.

Download the full paper here.


Oliver Quinlan

Oliver Quinlan

Oliver Quinlan

Head of Impact and Research, Raspberry Pi Foundation

Oliver was a programme manager for Nesta’s digital education projects. He is now Head of Impact and Research at the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

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