Sometimes, change happens, and we simply roll with it – like getting a new car when the old one has had its day or moving house for a new job. At other times, when we have specific goals in mind, we take charge of change and channel it in the right direction to get us to where we need to be.
Shaping the future of education
Today is the ideal time to build on what we've learned so far and advance our application of technology in schools. Shaping education to be fit for the future is not only a brilliant topic for the theme of this year's GESS Dubai conference and exhibition, but a process that we, as educators, vendors and institutions, need to be fully engaged with if we are to jointly create education systems with all the components to provide students with the relevant learning foundations for life. It's quite a responsibility! Technology, of course, is central to designing learning that reaches and benefits everyone – and its potential to support teachers (by helping to reduce workloads) and parents (with flexible contact and communication) is already evident. Now, it's time to go further.
Developing your digital strategy
Can you visualise a technology-enhanced education system that will flex with future career needs? If you had a blank canvas, how would you do it? Sometimes you have to think big to make bold changes and, although it's unlikely that entire countries would ever make wholesale changes to education, constructive initiatives can certainly come out of these free-thinking thought processes.
Of course, many schools are in a position where any future edtech progress they wish to make intertwines with other elements, such as funding, sustainability targets, meeting workforce challenges and more. But with digital strategies already in place and major technology innovations coming into the mainstream (enter, AI), we need to be on the ball when it comes to moving school technology forwards to embrace these new possibilities while, at the same time, staying responsive to further developments. How on earth do we balance these things?
Moving with the times
We've already been tested on our capacity to be creative with education technology. We've already navigated the monumental changes from the pandemic (more teachers using technology, remote and flexible learning, remote parents' evenings and more) and, from that, we can all feel a collective boost to our edtech confidence. But there's still more to do. Look at what happened in the workplace during that time too: work is no longer entirely place based. The move from a traditional office environment to hybrid working, where there's a greater focus on digital skills, critical thinking, and the effective use of AI and technology to streamline business efficiencies, means that our future learners won't be confined to the roles available to them within their locale; they will have the opportunity to choose from ones globally – but they will also have to compete with a global workforce for them. We must find ways to equip them with the skills for this future employment environment; will we get there in time?
How do we make the shift?
I often say that we must look back and reflect to move forwards – but not at the expense of progress. You need to know what works well in your setting and develop it. However, you can't define your future actions solely around that. Increasingly, our steps forwards involve us looking outward, looking to see what appears elsewhere and what other schools around us are doing, as well as taking note of international developments that we could learn from.
Bringing our education systems up to date is not exclusively about teaching and learning, as critical as that is. Using technologies that are co-developed with educators, built on impact and evidence, and based on pedagogical research is the gold standard for every school. But, given the changing demands of the workplace (and also the risks that we face – nobody thought a pandemic would happen, but it did), clearly, technology has a broader role to play in the whole education experience, creating adaptability and operational efficiencies, recruiting and retaining talented staff, taking on the strain of some of their administrative work and, above all, preserving their wellbeing. It's about the greater operational beast of how we can support everyone in our schools. Technology certainly has a vital part to play.
Solving the puzzle
At this point, you may feel that there are more questions than answers as to how we should shape the future of education – and that's why this year's GESS Dubai is a wonderful opportunity to get together with colleagues from across the world to have those all-important discussions and learn from each other.
Making informed decisions is the key to success and, with so many informative sessions happening at GESS this year, it's the perfect place to begin your research and gain inspiration. I'll be there talking about the future of edtech, and I'd be delighted to contribute to your CPD, prompt some discussions and help you take charge of progressing how you use edtech in your school.