BETT Conference - My Student Experience

BETT Conference

Our PSCA President and Pearson College London student Harry Edmonds tell us all about his experience when he was invited to be part of a panel discussion at the BETT Conference in London last month.

I was invited to speak on a panel at BETT, which is the world’s leading education technology (EdTech) event hosted at London’s ExCel centre. I’ve not spoken in a panel discussion before, and jumped at the opportunity to get stuck in. Before joining Pearson College London, I’d not even spoken in front of other students in a classroom.

I remember the first time we did a presentation at Pearson College London, I was terrified I wouldn’t remember anything to say. We do presentations and speak regularly which builds your confidence, practice really does pay off - I I’ve had enough of it at Pearson College London to be excited for the Panel rather than nervous.

The topic for discussion was a provocative one “what should students and educators demand from EdTech”, my company included Amar Kumar, SVP of Efficacy and Research at Pearson, Don Passey, Professor of Technology Enhanced Education and Alex Beard, Director of System Change at Teach for All.

I can’t claim to be an expert in EdTech, but can speak from my experiences of EdTech as a student (of which I’m fairly critical) and also as co-founder of EdTech start-up and director for another.

The debate was fast moving and was fuelled by four angles that each provided different insight, that of an academic, teacher, student, and education executive. The consensus was that EdTech has not fulfilled its potential, I added that it lags behind general technology in its impact, arguing that the user experience delivered in EdTech leaves a lot to be desired. I believe we should be demanding excellence and not accepting complacency. The feedback cycle is far too long in this industry. There is a big opportunity in taking a lean approach to EdTech, and use this to deliver real customer value that’s in line with current capabilities, rather than years behind it. Students should not have to think about using technology to learn, it should be effortless and seamlessly integrated into other systems.

Pearson College London does better than most universities in utilising the latest technology, we use Google Calendar for our timetables, Google Docs for collaborative work and other apps such as Slack which is a superb team communication tool. However none of these are EdTech products, they’re just ‘tech’ products – which reiterates my point that EdTech is behind the curve.