Where are we with EdTech? Forging ahead? On pause? Or even moving backwards? Al Kingsley, CEO of NetSupport and Matt Harris Ed.D, Co-Founder and CEO of childsafeguarding.com share contrasting views with Andy Homden in this edition of the ITM Podcast, Talking about EdTech.
Optimism and frustration
Al Kingsley has every confidence that the foundations have been laid for personalising the learning of any individual student who can get online. For Al, connectivity and the potential that digital solutions offer for collaboration between learners are EdTech’s most exciting achievement to date - and there's more to come.
Matt Harris, on the other hand, despite his passion for Educational Technology, has been disappointed that we have not moved forward with greater conviction in the post-pandemic world. He is frustrated that we are still talking about the ‘potential’ of EdTech rather than reflecting on its established impact on learning. In his eyes there has been an unhelpful reaction against digital approaches to learning as we returned to ‘live’ teaching. As a result there has been a failure to build on what we have learned in the last three years.
Which way forward?
Both Matt and Al are both committed to finding student-centred ways to advance genuine learning by digital means. Both are concerned about ‘digital poverty’ and the widening gap between the haves and have nots – between the privileged few that have access to digital learning solutions and those who do not – and much of their work is aimed at narrowing that gap.
Listening to them both you sense the drive that drew them to the sector in the first place. Whether or not EdTech is going through an uncertain period, you get the feeling that with people like Matt Harris and Al Kingsley applying their creativity and experience to the sector, the ultimate winners will be our young people – and their teachers.
Al Kingsley and Matt Harris EdD: the backstory
Drawn to the emerging high tech revolution of the 1990s and 2000s, Al Kingsley and Matt Harris were fascinated by how the world was already changing when the creative minds around them started to apply digital solutions to the way things were done in everyday life.
Attracted from the business world to the education sector in different ways, they both saw what the ‘new technology’ might do for learning. They never looked back and both are now leading thinkers and movers in the sector.
Al Kingsley is based in the UK and is the CEO of NetSupport, which provides IT solutions for schools and businesses worldwide. The Chair of a Multi-Academy Trust, Al also Chairs his region’s Governors' Leadership Group, and is Chair of the BESA EdTech Group. He sits on the Regional Schools Commissioner's Advisory Board for the East of England and North London and is the author of two books, ‘My School Governance Handbook’ and ‘My Secret #EdTech Diary’. He is the co-author of ‘A Guide to Creating a Digital Strategy in Education’.
Matt Harris, Ed.D. is the Co-Founder and CEO of ChildSafeguarding.com. Having grown up in California, Matt majored in Computer Science at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, starting his teaching career on the west coast and completing his Masters and Doctorate at San Francisco State University. He then moved overseas to teach in Singapore and Jakarta before going full time as a consultant and entrepreneur in 2018. During this time, Matt served as Chair of the Board for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). He is now based in Singapore where he leads ChildSafeguarding.com, an eLearning platform that offers Child Protection training for school support staff and parent volunteers. It is currently available in 34 languages and is being used in 67 countries.
Podcast production is by Jason Lasky
"Talking about . . . The ITM Podcast" is produced by voice-over, podcast, and sound specialist Jason Lasky, Creative Director and CEO of J.Lasky Voices.