EdTech in 2017 – The digital transformation continues

Emil Robertsson, Thomas Koponen and Tobias Strandh at EdTechX 2017 - London
It was one of the hottest week in ages in London and a premonition of one of the most interesting conferences I’ve attended lately, EdTechX 2017. Last year when me and Emil from Informator attended the conference we found lots of new material for the progress of our own training work at Informator and this year when we’ve grown even more in the Nordic approach, it felt natural to also have Thomas Koponen with us representing the Finnish perspective (and helping us cover as many different sessions as possible).

Charles McIntyre and Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet, co-founders of EdTech Europe conference kicked of the opening Keynote with tons of interesting data about what is happening in the EdTech world right now. Looking at the five years since this conference started, a lot has happened! In the digitization process we’ve gone from content is king + E-books to the definite rise of learning transfer platforms that now is an upcoming fact for both us in the adult education area. Looking at our own work this is without a doubt true! We’ve been implementing the Training Cloud over the last two years and are now partnering up with EdTech leader Claned to take the next step. For the youth education sector, we’ve gone from “Moocs will never replace University Degrees” to “Universities doomed to disappear” (which might be a bit excessive, but looking at the rising number of students worldwide, there is no doubt that the need for a digital alternative).  The learning world has moved on from flipped classrooms and extreme focus on courseware to using bots and a more project and phenomenon based learning. As one of the lecturers said;
In 2017 we do not need to fill students with tons of facts in the same sense as before, we have computers everywhere for this exact purpose. Our main goal ahead should be to teach students how to find the facts they need and focus on teach them how to use it!

Speaking on teachers… the calculations show that when the population of the world continues to grow, of course the need for good teachers do the same. Today in 2017 we have about 2.7 million teachers (as profession) worldwide. In 2020 the need will be almost 11 million and in 2030 there should be 25.8 million teachers needed to provide every child with a primary education. Even in the best of worlds I do think we all see the need to find additions to the human factor here! Bots and artificial intelligence will continue to add value and resources to the education sector and I personally see that we need to focus more on helping the leaders of our big companies really assimilate the digital transformation that is needed to take us all into the modern society! For us that works in the IT education industry it seems like a small step, but we need to bear in mind that many of our clients have merely looked at IT as a painful but necessary tool before. We must level up from only delivering product based training to a much wider perspective for all major employers to actually embrace the fact that digital has grown to be an essential part of all companies, no matter which industry you are focusing on!

In her keynote, Esther Wojcicki (Chief Learning Officer, Planet3) looked at the questions of how can technology empower students of today and how is the role of the teacher changing? As we’ve already concluded and implemented in our own work, technology can and will help in the learning journey for our students and it was really interesting listening to panelists as Jason Wong (global product manager at Google Education) explaining technologies that Google work on to assist both teachers and students and Anne Kauth (Professional Development and Partnerships at Minerva Schools) talking about how they’ve already started implementing more and more technology in their training to help the teachers in focusing on how to really teach students how to work with the new ideas, more than just teaching them the theory. This thinking really lines up with how we at Informator Tieturi more and more have moved on to the learning transfer practice where we flip the classroom and use the training cloud as a complement where our clients can learn in their own pace and actually get more out from the expert hours, practicing their new found knowledge together with world leading experts! In a world where time constraints collide with expert shortage, it really is our duty as an EdTech leader to do our very best to help both our students as well as the industry to move on to a more effective way of learning!

This year at EdTechX, my reflection is that we are talking more and more about best practices for the learning industry and the new products are more examples of ways to getting there. Learning portals and collaboration platforms is still the main factor and I do think that everyone attending the conference shares these ideas. The big thing for us now is to actually continue the work back home, teaching and sharing our joint ideas to both the people we work with as well as getting better in actually explaining the essential need to our clients (no matter if it is in the corporate or private world). Sadly, there are still many processes and regulations set as guide lines several centuries ago that still are in use even if the digital transformation has taken us all into an entirely new spot. There still is so many leaders and managers out there that are reluctant to change because “we’ve never done it like this before” and THAT is our main work ahead. We need to continue giving the clients what we as experts believe is the best possible solution and not always listen to exactly what is asked for. I’d like to end with looking back at the alleged words of wisdom from Henry Ford almost a 100 years ago;
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Our work continues...
/Tobias Strandh, Nordic Director

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