What our EdTech Innovation team are looking forward to in January 2020

It has been a busy year for Nesta’s EdTech Innovation team, with the launch of the EdTech Innovation Fund and the EdTech Innovation Testbed. As the year comes to a close, we are looking to the year ahead.

Our first engagement of the year will be at Bett, a trade show for education technology, where we’ll be hosting events and roundtables with teachers and innovators to discuss our work and get feedback from the sector.

Here are the five things we’ll be looking for.

1. Exciting EdTech, with a focus on pedagogy and evidence

With a wide range of technology organisations attending Bett, from start-ups to more established companies, we’re looking forward to getting up to speed with the newest EdTech products on the market.

We’re most interested in technology with pedagogy at the heart of it’s design and tools that are focused on the difference they can make to teachers and students, as well as those built on strong evidence about the impact they have. We know that technology doesn’t always live up to its promise, so we’ll be really interested to see how EdTech tools are building on their evidence base after our reflections on previous years.

If you’re attending Bett, join us at our panel event on 24 January to discuss evidence in EdTech. We’ll be sharing our EdTech Innovation Tested, a pioneering programme enabling schools and colleges in England to trial EdTech products while being supported to evaluate their impact, and discussing other ways to gather stronger evidence about EdTech.

2. Hearing from teachers

Teachers on Teacher Tapp recently shared how they best like to engage with educational research and 66% reported that they prefer to engage by attending conferences and events. However, we know that attendees at large education events and conferences are often mostly made up of those working outside of schools, technology and education suppliers, or more senior education leaders.

Ensuring that teachers’ voices are amplified and their classrooms and students remain the focus amongst all the exciting new technology on offer is a challenge we hope is addressed this year.

We're particularly excited to host a roundtable with school leaders on 22 January to explore how we can work with the education sector to make sure technology works for teachers and learners, by involving schools and colleges in building the evidence base about what works.

3. Live show and tells

We spend a lot of time thinking about how EdTech can best support teachers in their classrooms, but don’t often get the chance to see the tools demonstrated by those who built them. There are lots of live demonstrations at Bett and we’re looking forward to seeing a range of tech on display, including the weird and wacky!

However, we know that large industry shows and events can be overwhelming with the number of organisations exhibiting their products. So we’ll also be looking at how teachers and educators find the technology which is relevant to their classrooms and students.

4. A focus on professional development

One of the biggest challenges schools face when using EdTech is ensuring that teachers receive sufficient and ongoing training, and feel confident to make the most of technology in their classrooms.

Bett includes a strong focus on professional development, with a number of workshops and sessions aimed at helping schools, teachers and technicians think about the EdTech they use, increase teachers’ confidence in using new tools and make the most of technology in their classrooms. We’ll be interested to see how many teachers use these opportunities and what feedback they get afterwards.

5. The EdTech Innovation Fund grantees

Last month we announced the successful EdTech organisations we will be supporting through the EdTech Innovation Fund. Some of our grantees are heading to Bett to showcase their innovative tools and products for schools and teachers. We’re excited to hear more about what they have planned for the future and how their products can make a difference to teachers and students.

We hope to see you at Bett 2020 and we’ll be sharing our reflections after the show.

Find us at the following sessions:

Headteacher Roundtable: The EdTech Innovation Testbed Staff Room, 15.00 - 15.30, Wednesday 22 January

The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education Higher and Further Education Theatre, 10.45-11.35, Thursday 23 January

Evidence in EdTech: How we can better understand our impact? Professional Development Theatre – Teaching and Learning (North Hall) 16:00 - 16:30, Friday 24 January


Lucy Turner

Lucy Turner

Lucy Turner

Senior Analyst, healthy life mission

Lucy is a senior analyst on the healthy life mission team.

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Nancy Wilkinson

Nancy Wilkinson

Nancy Wilkinson

Senior Programme Manager, fairer start mission

Nancy leads Nesta's work on technology and education, overseeing a partnership with the Department for Education to help schools make more effective use of technology.

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