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Future edtech needs “integrated approach”

27 Jun 2022

Speaking with The PIE at the annual EdTechX Summit in London, head of the digital education unit at the European Commission Georgi Dimitrov talked about the elements that need to be considered going forward.

“Sometimes if you talk to a minister [regarding edtech] you get one impression, but if you talk to a start-up, you get a different impression,” he said.

“However, the child, who is actually attending school and getting the education is the third level you must consider. It’s something that we need to talk about further,” he continued.

In his keynote speech at the conference, Dimitrov also talked about two new hubs for digital education, both prompting more positive change for the edtech sector and student experience.

The first, announced on June 1, was the Ukrainian School Hub, providing access to education resources for Ukrainian pupils – a partnership with the European edtech sector and the Finnish Ministry of Education.

“This was an ongoing project of the Finnish Ministry, which was focused on curriculum development and political reform – and it had been developing for around two years,” he told The PIE.

“When the Russians invaded Ukraine, we immediately started to think about different types of remedies, and we also decided to go for a supposed consolidated attack response – we joined and augmented the budget, and in a matter of six to eight weeks together with the European EdTech Alliance, they managed to form this online platform,” he explained.

The second project, which was released on the day of the summit, was the new European Digital Education Hub.

“This hub will bring different stakeholders together. It’s really important to include as many non-traditional actors in education and training, which will probably be much more traditional if we take in the longer term.

“The private sector, civil society learners, will have access to a digital community model – and we will also be setting up a National Advisory Services Network,” Dimitrov said during his keynote.

“Crises like Covid show that we can actually converge, but we need to keep track and stay on this track in normal circumstances,” Dimitrov added.

“We need more effective public-private cooperation, and there is a very long way to go here in terms of ensuring a more effective communication between the private sector and public bodies when it comes to education, technology and its adoption in the long term.”

Yuriy Balkin of distance education specialist Optima Education Group, speaking remotely from Kyiv, also detailed edtech community solutions to the Ukraine crisis.

“At the start of the war, we hired Ukraine refugee teachers to teach students,” Maria Rahamägi, CEO and founder of Ukrainian-Estonian upskilling platform Edumus, also added.

“We have continued to teach them in their mother tongue… Due to the lack of funding, however, and the fact that we were covering costs ourselves, our NGO almost bankrupted itself because we didn’t get the extra funding that was needed to be able to pay teachers salaries. This is a common theme that we’ve seen.”

“The biggest thing that can stop any company from growing is distraction”

Applyboard’s Meti Basiri, Wukong Education’s Cicy Ding and GoStudent’s Laura Warnier participated in a panel on growing edtech platforms internationally.

“The biggest thing that can stop any company from growing is distraction, so we’ve been very laser-focused,” Basiri said. “We have a network of over 20,000 customers that we work with monthly, and I think listening to them is the very first thing that you have to consider.”

The conference was closed out by Anne Marie Imafidon MBE, who founded the Stemettes, a social enterprise working to inspire young women and non-binary people up to age 25 to pursue careers in STEM.

“Equitable practice isn’t actually just about equality, but it’s about how we can recognise the learner, recognise different types of folks on our platform and ensure we’re hearing from and working with them,” she told delegates.

“It’s co-creating educational experiences that is a really great opportunity for you as you educate for the future,” she added.

A gallery for the EdTechX Summit can be viewed here.

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