With my head full of ideas and conversations, I caught the DLR from the London ExCel on Friday. I managed to see both halls at the Bett show and chatted to a number of current Firefly schools and those interested in seeing how Firefly could help them do the most for their students.
It was my first Bett, so there was a lot to take away but I’ve had sometime to reflect, and two themes really rose to the top for me.
Personalisation: Opening the Lid on Student Potential
Edtech is finally on the cusp of truly personalised learning. The changes in the country’s educational framework may have clued you into this shift. Perhaps you have picked up on the amount of content being produced about personalised learning online. If you’ve missed either of those shifts, the current edtech landscape will make you a believer.
From text-to-speech pens approved for testing to AI-driven assessment and intervention, many of the tools on offer at BETT are allowing school leaders and teachers to more effectively differentiate instruction and curriculum. I saw many tools that are finally linking assessment with paired intervention resources. There were apps that allowed students to take a picture of a maths problem and get an online tutor’s guidance in minutes. The future of edtech is freeing teachers from being the sole gateway for knowledge and resources for students. I even saw headsets that measure students’ brainwaves to track focus and well-being.
Equally important, I saw edtech emphasising data oversight and insight. A data-driven age requires tools that make collating and analysing data for the right people simple.
This kind of access to data facilitates better teaching and interventions. With curated resources, these interventions can happen even quicker. Beyond these solutions, the next horizon for edtech is to provide this kind of access to data from multiple sources — MIS, learning platforms, specific intervention solutions and the rest.
Parent Engagement: Having the Right Conversations
I spent a lot of time on our stand in addition to making my way around to others. While I saw a lot of stands speaking to parent engagement, I was especially struck by the number of conversations we had at our stand. I had or overheard more conversations than I can recall. The question on the tips of everyone’s tongues: How can you help us engage our parents?
Edtech providers are speaking to the range of needs schools have in mind: data privacy, centralised information, personalised communications, engagement tracking, etc. More than anything, they were speaking to the felt need for simpler, streamlined solutions.
If the focus on personalisation enhances the school’s work with students, the focus on parent engagement has a view towards completing the circle. Teachers can more readily engage parents with learning resources and results for their child. Office staff can manage multiple streams of communication without having to recreate work term to term and year to year. Best of all, school leaders are able to rest a little easier knowing that the right communication channels are in place.
Where does that leave us?
You are probably reevaluating your current strategies if you attended Bett as an IT manager, e-learning coordinator or school leader. There’s a lot to consider. How does it square with your current practices and long term instructional and engagement strategies?
These themes resonate deeply with us at Firefly. We’d love your input too, whether you’re a current Firefly school or more broadly involved in education. If you’d like to help shape the product vision, our research team would love to be in touch about your thoughts on parent engagement and how you use data in your school.