The word ‘innovation’ crops up continually in education circles — and especially in education technology circles. Let’s leave aside the implication that innovation is always a Good Thing (capital letters are demanded here). The issue is that innovation is expected. At the very least, the general expectation is that opportunities for innovation must always be sought.
One might say that this has now become official. The Bett show this year will see the launch of something called the Innovation Index. According to the description of the event, which takes place just after the official opening of Bett in the Bett arena:
“In Autumn 2017 Bett undertook a large scale survey to explore global approaches to innovation in education and to better understand the state of them from awareness to adoption. The results presented for the first time publicly show the culture towards innovation that surfaces from institutions who engage with new approaches to pedagogy and technology.”
It will be interesting to learn if this research includes MATs. They are in a prime position to seek opportunities for innovation: by allowing their schools a certain degree of independence, then learning from the best, and disseminating the key elements of their good practice. If, for example, one school has consistently better, or worse, results than the others, the question is: why? (This was explored in the article Learning from the best examples in schools.)
So what does this have to do with Bett, an education technology event, apart from the launch of the Innovation Index? The answer is possibly: quite a lot. We are living in interesting times (mostly in a good sense). There are some amazing technologies ‘out there’ which either have become, or are on the verge of becoming, a real possibility in schools, as we touched on in our article on ed tech highlights.
For instance, Virtual Reality and Augmented reality apps can transform the learning experience for pupils. Artificial Intelligence and ‘bots’ are developing by leaps and bounds. If a Virtual Assistant bot was now available to guide your students, as it is in Georgia State University, would you be in a position to implement it in your schools? Would you want to? Can you envisage a future in which a Virtual Assistant with Artificial Intelligence and access to your pupils’ data contacts parents without anyone’s say-so to inform them that their child’s attendance is slipping? And what might be the implications of that from a GDPR point of view?
It may well be too early to have to start worrying about such things, but would it be too far-fetched to suggest the setting up of a school committee to consider the possibilities?
One way to get started or to make some quick progress in thinking about how developments in technology might affect how schools, MATs and LAs cut through the mass of data to find meaning and relationships is to visit the Bett Show, as suggested recently. If you do, visit Groupcall on stand C190. If by the time you read this Bett has been and gone, then get in touch. Why? Because Groupcall is launching a product that delivers intelligent analytics, and a way to become GDPR-compliant.
Keeping track of all the data generated in a single school, let alone a group of schools, is not too difficult, with software like Emerge and Xporter. Making sense of it all in a way that provides a basis for right action can be. Fortunately, developments in hardware (think AI) and intelligent analytics mean that it doesn’t always need to be that way. However, returning to the opening theme of this article, an organisation can only take advantage of new technology if it has a culture of innovation. Hopefully, the Innovation Index research will provide some insight on how to achieve that.