An EdTech World Tour

Two curious students set out to learn from and share best practices in education innovation.

GUEST COLUMN | by Audrey Jarre and Svenia Busson

CREDIT edtech world tourWe wanted to make sense of the hyped-up buzz surrounding edtech by bringing together stakeholders from around the world who have different understandings of the market, and to share our collaborative journey touring edtech clusters and seeing best practices to scale innovation. To this end, during the course of a five-month period, we intend to travel to tech hubs, interview movers and shakers and create open-source resources for edtech professionals and enthusiasts — a grand adventure and a worthwhile cause, our edtech world tour is a way to connect the dots for a whole lot of learning about learning worldwide.

The problem with the technology narrative

Education is an industry with annual spending figures in trillions of dollars, yet its delivery remains largely traditional in nature. In the past decade, a large number of edtech companies have emerged to enrich the teaching and learning experience.

However, many of those products have been developed without input from or support from teachers and students. The gap between the realms of education and technologies can be bridged if we learn a bit more about both components. We must consider evidence-based presentation of the impact that a given product has on learning over demonstration of product bells and whistles. The market proposition is not in line with the expectations of teachers. When entrepreneurs use the word “disruption”, one would rather look for something you can build on: the technology narrative isn’t taking into account the specificities of the powerful experience of learning or teaching.

Perspectives must be global but fuelled by local insights

What makes a given edtech ecosystem flourish? Is edtech adoption related to cultural factors and elements and shaped by the country and broader education environment one is raised in? Is it the capacity to attend a meetup, a hackathon, a summit — and be inspired — a particular state of mind of policymakers, the valuation of edtech startups in one’s immediate environment, or the privileged access to funding because of local success stories? We wish to amplify the voice of a large community of education innovators and share their philosophy, ideas, findings, innovations, and achievements with a broader audience. What works, or the value and effectiveness of digital innovations in education isn’t easy to evaluate globally beside very local metrics.

Cutting through the noise and linking communities

Language, time and distance barriers hinder effective communication between edtech influencers. Different key stakeholders live in the same ecosystem without collaborating effectively because of the lack of a common platform to share experiences, concerns and best practices. During five months, we will interview teachers, students, edupreneurs, policy makers, and locals to get a good understanding of the state of Edtech in a given country from all perspectives. We will be visiting London, Berlin, Paris, San Francisco, Santiago, Cape Town, Sydney, Seoul and Bangalore and trying to make sense of those cities and their environment in relation to learning technologies and how they foster change initiative in this sense.

Our Country Reports will encompass their specificities in culture, policy, overall ICT adoption, education system. Our Edtech World Tour blog will display various interviews, product reviews, videos as we go to shed light on relevant local initiatives in order to raise awareness on great edtech products, policies or trends that deserve global attention. The third part of our work will be create an Global Edtech Index, open-source and community driven. Everyone will be able to contribute and propose new initiatives, influencer, or edtech clusters as long as the proposed item corresponds to our core value of expanding the impact of education technologies for learning outcomes. The geographical scale won’t be limited to our itinerary – as it will be crowdsourced it should help us to maximize and refine our coverage. We will also be organizing pro-bono workshops for education social enterprises following the MakeSense model as we go along to help social entrepreneurs refine their business models.

Audrey Jarre and Svenia Busson are two curious students at HEC Paris and Freie Universität Berlin who are also fond of arts, geopolitics, running, bretzels, innovation & TED Talks. Learn more at www.edtechworldtour.com Write to: edtechworldtour@gmail.com or follow @edtechworldtour

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