Bett 2017: trends of the biggest educational software event worldwide

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We are paying attention at the insights given by experts in technology, educators and policymakers at the world’s leading higher education technology conference, held in London in January. In October, U-Planner will be participating again in the Latin American version in Mexico.

Bett was a four-day event involving over 34,000 educators and decision makers from 138 countries. The conference consisted of sessions offering advice, tools and insight to aid teaching, with the presence of leading speakers and companies in education and technology,

The Huffington Post covered the event, which “showcased everything from robots that teach children how to ski on school trips, drones that are used for after school drone clubs to AR which has enabled students at an Ohio university to dissect bones and organs and view veins in detail.”

However, they questionned:

“How far is technology a worthwhile investment in a sector that’s already facing serious funding challenges, and are we really using it to its full potential?”

Here are some of the most interesting trends, insights and higher education challenges presented at the event to answer that question:

1. The implementation and better use of big data analytics

Microsoft was one of the top leaders at the event. Anthony Salcito, Vice-president at Microsoft Worldwide Education, explained with his team the wide range of assets that the company is developing to bridge the digital divide. One of the most important needs: the rise of data-driven instruction and learning process.

Saclito spoke to Times Higher Education highlighting the use of technology to support student achievement and outcomes. He explained that” current tools of technology-enhanced learning, such as the developing field of learning analytics – the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about the progress of learners – could help support students in achieving this.”

“I would say the one category that applies to everything that universities do – whether it’s student life, classroom instruction, research – is the use and rise of data to help make the operations of an institution far more efficient; to provide much more insight into a student’s learning path,” he said.

In fact, Salcito added that data could answer questions such as:

  • How does the curriculum become more meaningful and relevant?
  • How does instruction become more adaptive and predictive, potentially?
  • How can students learn anywhere, anytime, in a collaborative environment more effectively to help empower them to create jobs and grow economies?

Analytics and interpretation

Salcito explained Times Higher Education that embedding student learning analytics “brings many advantages, including having a single version of the truth where universities have clear data from which to base informed decisions and create intervention plans early to improve an outcome.”

In that regard, Josh Perry, director at school data platform Assembly, gave out valuable tips for school analytics to make sense of big data. He explained that analysis only matters if you trust the data, and act on what it tells you, avoiding unnecessary options, standardizing its visualization, contextualizing properly and giving priority to the most important things.

Analytics and implementation

One significant concern in higher education management is how to handle analytics. Paul Clarck and Rebecca Ferguson, from The Open University in the UK explained the leadership needed for the implementation of learning analytics in higher education. In our opinion, the most important steps before internalizing analytics involves:

  • Developing a robust quality assurance process for the validity and reliability of tools.
  • Developing evaluation checklist for learning analytics tools.
  • Identifying the skills required in different areas.
  • Training and support researchers and developers to work in this field.

2. Integration of student management software, a growing concern

Evolution of technology rather than its revolution. That is the conclusion that Mike Fisher, associate director at Futuresource Consulting, told AV Magazine as part of the event.

“The EdTech industry is incredibly fragmented, so the ability for suppliers to simplify their offerings by ensuring seamless integration will be crucial. In general, we would also expect to see more solutions offering progress monitoring and data analytics solutions.”

Fisher added that innovations such as big data can transform education, but has challenges in its implementation. With the combination of student performance data and behavioral analysis, school leaders can identify students starting to fall behind.

However, student data privacy “is of course a major area of sensitivity,” he pointed out.

 3. Upcoming needs for education technology in the Americas

The education sector in the United States and Latin America is undergoing substantial changes. Kevin Bushweller and Sean Cavanagh, editors of EdWeek Market Brief, explained “how to crack and master the US education market”.

They pointed out that the American education sector is very concerned about cost effectiveness and personalized learning in schools across the country. The US school districts face different priorities in terms of the challenges they need to work out with technology such as:

  • Curriculum changes (64%).
  • Flexible learning environments (57%).
  • Assessment changes (52%).
  • Purchase of adaptive technologies (36%).
  • Creation of learner profiles (32%).

On the other hand, Vipul Bhargava, specialist in Education Technology and International Schools from the UK Department for International Trade, spoke about the future focus of educational technology in Latin America:

  • Brazil is becoming an important opportunity for STEM material and digital content.
  • Colombia and Mexico are heavily investing in educational technologies.

In that regard, Mexico’s Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey’s talk provided a nurturing experience on innovation in higher education in Latin America, using:

  • Challenging and interactive learning to engage students and promote collaboration.
  • Promoting flexibility in the teaching- learning process, both in the number of courses and the time and place to take each course.
  • Promoting innovation for teachers.

What’s coming to Latin American educational technology?

This is a forefront for what we could expect in Latin American education software during this 2017. U-Planner participated at the 4th BETT Latin America Leadership Summit and Expo in Mexico, in 2016, and will be an active participant at the upcoming event in October 2017.

The Summit will include international speakers and innovators from educational software companies across Latin America, who will share experiences and discuss how to develop strategies to empower more progressive education through technology.

What trends in education technology interest you the most? Send us your comments.