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Edtech Development: easing the limits on innovation and practice

Dr. Christina Preston and Sarah Younie 2 Comments

This editorial article appeared in the 26th March 2017 issue of the MirandaNet newsletter
Comments are particularly welcomed if they contribute to the formation of the agenda for the meeting outlined below. You must be logged in as a MirandaNet members in order to contribute. 

(Read the newsletter here.)


On April 4th and armed with ideas from members of the MirandaNet Fellowship, Christina Preston, Sarah Younie and Helen Boulton will be meeting Bridie Tooher, the Head of EdTech Policy and Data Strategy at Department for Education. This meeting is a good sign and even more so that we have endured a long period when academics and teachers along with other sundry experts have been collectively criticised and dismissed, frequently by our government’s own ministers and representatives.

In this meeting Christina will be representing MirandaNet, Sarah will represent MESH and Helen, ITTE. We have a shared agenda to promote the value of professional organisations in the field of edtech and we will be talking about the challenges facing teachers in making the most of edtech:

  • A lack of opportunities for teachers to exchange knowledge; Access to the knowledge base of the profession;
  • The reduction of university places for beginning teachers and the shortage of University-based  Initial Teacher training (ITT);
  • A lack of CPD in edtech;
  • A lack of research into edtech;
  • A shortage of funds for schools to upgrade their digital infrastructure which is ageing and changing;
  • A growing shortage of computing teachers;
  • Lack of professional contact with DfE.

The landscape has not been welcoming to professional organisations in edtech since the Coalition government in the UK took over in 2010. Sadly, for example, the much respected and long-established Naace is having to close their trading arm.

It seems a good time to present to the DfE how professional organisations can offer some cost-effective solutions to the challenges we all face, for example through participation in our  e-communities of practice and our digital publishing. We will be explaining the value to the profession of MirandaNet as a practice-based research network with links to CPD funded by companies. MESH too is developing a knowledge mobilisation resource for teachers and academics and ITTE, among other activities , publishes a respected peer-reviewed journal. 

In order to make sure that the DFE gains from our experience and influence we will be suggesting that we re-establish contact with the DFE so that we can inform our members adequately about policy directions and also express our members views about policy and strategy.

We will be inviting Bridie Tooher to speak at our Global Summit on May 4th in London and hope to see many of you there. Details on Mirandanet

Sarah and I have written at length on these issues in two articles. One published in the Times Education Supplement is about professional organisations in general. The other one in the Education Executive is about the growing challenge to find teachers for the new Computing Curriculum.  

The articles are also published on the MirandaNet blog as:

Comments 2

  1. In my experience the major issues are:

    insufficient incentive and opportunity for teachers to leave the classroom for CPD

    no incentive for teachers to use their own time for CPD

    the small amount of CPD in secondary being focussed on examination results

    a focus on teachers learning to program (rather than understand the principles of computation)

    So, I feel that the investment must be directed to change the employment of teachers.
    A teacher contract (timetable) must facilitate at least a monthly clear day to enable them to participate in CPD away from school with no requirement for ‘cover’.

    The school being rewarded (financially) for enabling teachers to attend CPD

    Having more CPD focussed upon the principles and subject content of computing including the safe-guarding issues in digital literacy, good principles of teaching applications (IT) and understanding of computer science.

    Good luck tomorrow – sorry i hadn’t picked up earlier on your talk with the DfE.

    John Woollard
    Computing At School
    CAS Tenderfoot Coordinator
    University of Southampton

  2. Looks good – and very exciting too!

    In Manchester we’ve been working with the City Council on bridging the gap between the new computing curriculum and the skills set required by employers in the new and emerging digital skill sectors. There is a BIG gap in the digital skills (or tech literacy) that students leave school with including online safety.

    For example….

    When building an app a students needs to know how to code but they also need design skills and an understanding of user operability (where a user clicks on a website or app). These are currently missing from the curriculum – they used to be called Media Studies but that seems to be a swear word in education today.

    Best of luck!

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