Just how many “…techs” can we cope with? BioTech (Biotechnology businesses) FinTech (financial technology businesses) and, the focus of this article, EdTech (education technology business). Apparently, the latter could grow from $75bn in 2014 to $120bn in 2019.
This week’s Economist leader, Brain gains, and feature, Technology is transforming what happens when a child goes to school, argue that education technology and teachers could revamp school and, more specifically, that this will require three things to be successful:
- Edtech must be evidence-based (that is based on how children learn) and this needs to acknowledge the role of the teacher.
- Edtech needs to narrow inequalities in the education system.
- Edtech will only have an impact if teachers adopt it [I suppose 1. will help with this].
Perhaps not surprisingly, it cites many examples of learning facts and tutoring – such as Mindspark (India) with 45,000 questions generating 2 million answers a day; Geekie (Sao Paulo); DreamBox (US); Siyavula Practice (South Africa). I can see the huge advantage for maths, science and fact-based subjects.
Of course, as The Dyslexic Professor, I’m just as interested in how EdTech can support learning of languages and to engage with language. I’ll come back to this in a moment.
What struck me, whilst reading the article, was the number of education technology entrepreneurs I knew personally. This is even more surprising when you realise I’m not that well networked and haven’t been specifically looking for them! I will share four with you:
- Amazing Twinkl – co-founded by Jonathan Seaton – probably the leading online provider of learning resources to teachers across the globe.
- Explosive Webanywhere – founded by Sean Gilligan – spans both corporates and schools with their global e-learning platform.
- Innovative Synap – co-founded by James Gupta – a rapidly emerging online platform for creating, practicing and distributing educational quizzes.
- Wordy Wmatrix – lead by Paul Rayson – a truly innovative online tool for mapping and comparing large bodies of text to help find meaning.
Of course, it’s the online nature of each of these that unites them but also the deep knowledge and commitment of the founders.
Now, back to my hobby horse, how EdTech can support engaging with language – and for dyslexics in particular. A Google search on “dyslexia educational software for adults” results in relevant adverts for:
Then links to:
- Dyslexia.com (Iansyst) – suppliers of assistive technology products and services
- British Dyslexia Association – educational software partners
- Inclusive Technology – dyslexia software
There is also the British Dyslexia Association’s New Technologies Committee website that lists a wide range of assistive technologies under:
For me as an adult dyslexic engaging in the workplace I particularly rely on prediction tools such as:
- Co:Writer – I haven’t used this product but it looks comprehensive.
- ClaroRead – I use the version for AppleMac. I’ve even done a product review!
- Read & Write Gold
So, The Economist is right to highlight the growing market for EdTech and this applies equally to assistive technologies for dyslexics. I can also see how recommendations 1 (evidence-based) and 2 (narrowing inequalities) are relevant. But, what about teachers?
How can we expect busy teachers to gain the insights they need and, perhaps even more importantly, identify the learners that need the support? Remember, an individual test for dyslexia can cost over £500 and over £700 by an Educational Psychologist (see BDA). There are also a number of online test costing between £20 & £50 (See BDA).
Given that eyesight tests are free for children, why isn’t this also true for dyslexia?