Creating an EdTech Blueprint for the World

by Charles Sosnik

Matt Harris is on a mission. He would like to create a worldwide blueprint for EdTech. If you don’t know Matt, he’s the Deputy Head of School for Learning Technology at the British School Jakarta. In his role, Dr. Harris works with all students, parents, teachers, and administrators to enhance teaching and learning while improving the school’s use of technology and data for operations. His work also expands the use of libraries, Digital Citizenship, information literacy, STEM, and other digital resources across all grade levels.

I am at the FETC conference in Florida, attending sessions and spending time with the greatest minds in EdTech. On Tuesday, Matt moderated a series of panels from the crack of dawn until dark, gathering experts from all areas of EdTech, most with an international background. The idea is to create an actual blueprint for using technology to enhance learning, something that can work on a global basis. It’s a tall order; Matt has been working on this for a couple of years now. As I listened to the experts discussing and hashing out ideas, I could see the process moving forward.

This morning session included Vincent Jansen, Director of Technology at SouthPointe Academy. His career spans many years, in which he has been a teacher, administrator, business analyst and consultant in the K-12 education sector. He also held roles in sales & marketing, and market development for education business. Vincent is the COO of Smart Metrics Group which provides strategic leadership for data and information management, process intelligence, use of metrics, computational thinking and leveraging technology in teaching and learning.

In addition to Alan, Christina Devitt Head of Technology at Jakarta Intercultural School brought additional international experience. Christina is an advocate for empowering learners with technology. Having taught in three schools spanning two decades of revolutionary technological change, she brings experience in curriculum and technology leadership along with the implementation of two 1:1 programs to her current role as Head of Technology at Jakarta Intercultural School.

Rounding out the morning session was Trace Urdan. Trace has followed the Knowledge Services market as an equity research analyst for more than 18 years, during which time he has held senior research positions at a number of firms including ThinkEquity, Robert W. Baird, Signal Hill Capital Group, Wells Fargo Securities, and most recently as a Managing Director at Credit Suisse. He is widely cited as an expert on the topics of for-profit education, education technology and education policy.

The early morning session set up the day’s discussion with some very basic questions. What does technology do in our schools? What should technology do in our schools? Christina pointed out that technology is now touching every point in education. Trace looked at it as a front of the house vs. back of the house scenario – the front of the house is the classrooms; the back is the IT and support functions. Trace said that the front of the house is looking for more resources and is experiencing an explosion of products. The back of the house is feverishly looking for consolidation, partnerships and ways to create interoperability between programs and systems. As the front of the house is screaming “more, more, more,” the back of the house is systematically making “more” work while looking for ways to lessen the number of players.

Which led the group to a very obvious place — why can’t schools outsource their IT? Businesses do it. Are the data in schools more sensitive than that of businesses? It’s an interesting question that could be a big part of the solution.

There is a lot more to this story. Stay tuned as the greatest minds in EdTech create a worldwide blueprint for technology in education.