edtech

Keynote insights: Brian Alexander on getting the most from edtech

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EduTECH Asia is just a couple of months away, and here at HQ we’re busy putting the final pieces in place for what is going to be an incredibly exciting week.

One of the speakers who will be kicking off the show will Bryan Alexander, who amongst other work is known for his superb monthly Future Trends in Technology and Education report. Ahead of the show we caught up with Bryan to pick his brain on the growth of edtech, the best way to get non-technical educators benefiting from technology, and why he’s excited to be joining us in November!

How do you go about cutting through the edtech noise to find the real trends?

Partly by working with many people on social media, using multiple voices and perspectives to get clarity.

Partly by connecting present stories to historical trends and examples.

And partly by looking carefully to how people actually use technologies.

What three key education technology trends are you most excited about at the moment and why?
  1. Open – that is, open education resources, open access in scholarly publication, and open source software.
  2. Digital literacy – this opens up productive and deep ways for rethinking learning and technology.
  3. VR/AR/MR – so many creative possibilities!
Do you see more education technology value coming from major vendors or from the small edtech startups? Do you see more value in them competing or collaborating?

It depends on scale.  Some small startups have great ideas, but haven’t been embraced institutionally (so far).  Some big players have grand scale, but their value is a bit thin.

I like seeing vendors compete *and* collaborate, depending on the situation.  The trickier part is to get educators and their institutions collaborating!

In your experience how can non-technically savvy educators get the most out of edtech?

First, by picking one tool or approach that suits their curriculum and style, then working on that.  Such a focus is very practical, and can build confidence.

Second, by connecting that technology with their academic discipline.  For example, seeing if any scholarship of teaching is available to illuminate this new practice.

Third, through social media.  Teachers can share their experiments and get feedback.

Fourth, by collaborating with local support, such as peer instructors or ed tech support staff.

How do you see the changing political landscape impacting the ability of schools in the US to evolve?

It is possible that the immigration struggle could become an active political presence in American education, which might drain resources, or lead to external political reaction.  It’s also possible that conservatives will further decrease governmental support for postsecondary education, which might hamper evolution and also lead to increased privatization.

Alternatively, the flow of international students might slow down, which would have a negative impact on campus life and sustainability.

Moreover, a government increasing its use of surveillance is unlikely to support students, faculty, staff, and campuses in protecting their privacy from new forms of data analysis.

How can institutions in Asia learn from the way that technology is being used in US institutions?

Asian institutions can learn from new developments in the learning management system (LMS) sphere, especially as we explore a next generation digital learning environment (NGDLE).  They could also benefit from developments in digital literacy, including digital storytelling and students as producers, as well as emerging technologies.

What is exciting you most about the upcoming EduTECH Asia conference?

The chance to learn more about Asian approaches to educational technology, from projects and practices to vendors and academic programs.  Also the chance to speak to the US perspective.  To visit Singapore for the first time.  And, alas, to answer questions about Trump.

Bryan is one of over 200 speakers taking the stage at EduTECH Asia 2017. If you haven’t already done so you can book your ticket here.

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