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EdTech Voice Notes: Bridging the Gap between Education and Technology

Welcome to the first episode in the second series of EdTech Voice Notes, the podcast of the EdTech Summit.

After a successful EdTech Summit last year, we thought we'd resume our podcast looking back at past episodes, to reflect on what was the main focus of the show - how can we bridge the gap between education and technology. We will revisit the answers provided by our guests, drawing a broad picture of how they would tackle the issue.

To register for EdTech Update, taking place virtually on 28th - 29th April, please register for free on

In this episode:

Vikki Liogier, National Head of EdTech and Digital Skills, Education & Training Foundation (ETF)
Mark Bramwell, CIO of Said Business School, Oxford University
Amy Hollier, Head of Blended Learning at Heart of Worcestershire College
Stephen Hope, Head of Independent Learning, Leeds City College
Dr Maren Deepwell, CEO, Association for Learning Technology (ALT)
Dr Jonathan Eaton, Academic Registrar, Teesside University

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To hear more from Vikki Liogier, Mark Bramwell, Amy Hollier, Stephen Hope, Maren Deepwell, Jonathan Eaton and others leading in delivering effective digital and technology-focused solutions for education, secure your free pass here to the EdTech Update, taking place online on the 28 - 29th April 2021.


Alessandro Bilotta  00:46

Welcome to the first episode of the second season of EdTech voice notes. After a successful at Tech Summit last year that brought virtually together attendees from the wider education sector, we thought would resume our podcasts looking back at past episodes to reflect on what was the main focus of the show? How can we bridge the gap between education and technology, we will revisit the answers provided by our guests drawing a broad picture of how they will tackle the issue.

Let's start with Vicki Liogier, national head of EdTech and digital skills at ETF the education and training foundation. Vicki focuses her answer on the importance of the involvement of all key stakeholders, the upscaling of staff, and a reflection on how we should train any learner.


Vikki Liogier  01:35

I suppose to make digital transformation that happen is really important to have a complete alignment from the board, meaning the governing bodies for the executive team and fish own organisation. It is about integrating systems and processes so that they talk to one another and they are streamlined, as well as empowering staff by investing in their digital capability development. And also investing in the digital capability development of learners.

Leading in the digital age is really about understanding how to take advantage of the opportunities brought by digital innovation. And it's also managing GE consequences of digital meaning cyber security's and preventing and safeguarding and all those things. We are training students to become carriers surfers will ride the digital wave and embracing digital disruption with multitudes of jobs and a portfolio of carriers. Because it's no longer one job for life. We will change careers and jobs constantly. We don't know what the future looks like.

So the one thing I would encourage any education institution to do is to build on a culture of growth, mindset and lifelong learning, while making sure that the processes within your organisation support the delivery of GE foods.


Alessandro Bilotta  03:19

Up next is Mark Bramwell, CIO of Said Business School at Oxford University. Mark answers the question having at heart the end user perspective; the students.


Mark Bramwell  03:32

Think as we shared earlier, for me, it isn't about being prescriptive. It's about understanding what needs the requirements, the objectives of your customer base of your students are learning and teaching is an incredibly personal experience. Different learners and different teachers have different preferences, styles pedagogies. They like to consume their content and learn at different times through different channels using different media. They like to access different types of content and discuss this either in groups or personally, one to one, whether in real time or reflected.

So for me, it's all about choice. And it's all about providing a portfolio of intuitive available, supportable and secure technology solutions, that best support and enable that by doing that, I think you'll find you're allowed to actively and organically start to bridge that gap between education and technology.

It shouldn't be forced, it should be something that is organic. That just happens. And I think you'll find that the best institutions, the best educational providers will do that, and you'll find that they will be the most successful and they will be providing the best student experience.


Alessandro Bilotta  04:41

Amy Hollier, Head of Blended Learning at Heart of Worcestershire College puts staff first. Considering the stress that change can potentially put on any organisation. She recommends all stakeholders feel involved throughout a digital transformation process. Empowering staff with appropriate training and are some of them to actively work as ambassadors of change.


Amy Hollier  05:04

As much as I'd like to say the gap is reducing between education and technology. I know there's still lots of work to be done. As I said, I firmly believe that any successful strategy is based around people, people should come first and the technology should definitely come second. And if we're clear on our vision, what we want to achieve, and most importantly, why we want to achieve it, then you can all progress together from there.

I always say as I've already done today, keep it simple, don't overwhelm people and have a phased approach. Remember, that change can be quite daunting for some. So, you know, try not to overwhelm where possible, and then people will buy into stress do more, if they know that it's all manageable, I certainly find that a just in time strategy for training is most effective, especially with digital training, whereby you provide training on certain aspects, when people are most likely to need it, so that they can then apply the training straightaway.

And it will stick in their minds, and then you can build on it from there. So the just in time strategy is definitely one that I would would seriously recommend. The other thing I would say is, don't be swayed by the most shiny new piece of tech, really make sure that you have a purpose for introducing it. And that it can be used by, you know, most people in your institution, because we can all again, get swayed by that kind of the bells and whistles of a piece of tech. And it just sit dormant with people not using it which is such a waste of money. But then when she if you do introduce something new, then find the early adopters in the institution and really utilise their enthusiasm to help you really embed it further across the institution.


Alessandro Bilotta  06:59

Technology should be at the core of any strategy, and not an optional component of everyday learning and teaching. This is the advice of Stephen Hope, head of independent learning at Leeds City College.


Stephen Hope  07:12

I think the key is that it is a strand of teaching learning and a focus on learning that technology is not an add on. It's it's teaching not taking. And I think that has to be the focus that education technologies, if it is seen as an add on or an option, that actually people will have an option to decide whether they're going to use it or not.

So I think that whole kind of approach of a learning strategy that has technology within embedded within it is the focus and has to be and will bridge the gap then, as well as a real focus on development and support and making sure that we can empower our staff to empower our students with the use of technology, both in and outside of the classroom.


Alessandro Bilotta  07:53

One positive thing about last year is how the education community came together to support each other and share how to best use technology. There are organisations that have studied best practice in education technology for decades. And an example is out the Association for learning technology. Here is Maren Deepwell, CEO of ALT.


Maren Deepwell  08:14

I feel as a membership organisation, we've been thinking about how to bridge the gap between education and technology for you know, 1020, nearly 30 years. And I feel that the answer to it is really collaborative, professional practice. So much in learning technology is reinventing the wheel when someone discovers a new technology and uses it for the first time and maybe has a bad experience or maybe doesn't feel confident there's lots of barriers to adoption of innovative tools. And I feel sharing best practice across sectors between institutions.

And really sharing our know how our experiences with learners and different academic colleagues is the key to the most cost effective and most efficient implementation, but also enables us to address some of the bigger questions I mentioned earlier in our conversation around making the relationship between technology and education more equitable, more inclusive, and more fair and ethical for all involved.


Alessandro Bilotta  09:22

In our last episode of season one, the one with Mark Simpson, Vice Chancellor and Jonathan Eaton academic register, both at Teesside University. They addressed the question in three points, understanding and engagement across the educational sector, strengthen the relationship with technology partners, evaluate what works. Here's Jonathan.


Jonathan Eaton  09:44

I think there were three things that we need to do to effectively bridge that gap between education and technology. Firstly, we need to bridge the gap within the education sector. And what I mean by that is understanding In the range of innovative practices that have grown exponentially over the last couple of years, within every aspect of the educational sector, from nursery to primary school, to secondary school to colleges and universities, and sometimes I worry that we don't fully understand what that looks like across the educational experience. And that potentially over the years to come, students might have a quite uneven trajectory in how technology is used to enhance their learning as they progress through the educational system, up to universities and beyond into the workplace.

And I think there's scope nationally for far better understanding and engagement across the sector, to share the practice of teaching staff and understand what works in granular detail. And also make sure we smooth that trajectory for students so that their expectations are met as they progress on their educational journey. The second element is to strengthen working with technology partners, but in particular, to focus on what technology allows us to do, that we couldn't otherwise do in our educational practice, whether that's online or in the physical classroom itself.

And I think there's a real opportunity here at a national level, to catalyse some of this thinking and innovation, and really positioned as the UK as an EdTech leader globally, for how we build those strong relationships between educational practitioners in schools, colleges and universities, and technology experts in industry, and how we do so in a way which delivers an outstanding student experience at every level of the educational sector.

And that, of course, is predicated on the third thing we need to do, which is to win understand, in a rigorous and robust way, what works on the ground, to build a framework of evaluation, which allows us to understand that value that it adds to the student experience, and how that impact is realised in terms of retention, and achievement, and the outcomes of students as they progress beyond education into the workplace as well. I'm really excited to see how this theme develops over the years to come.


Alessandro Bilotta  12:32

If you'd like to hear more from our guests, please do go back and listen to the episodes we released. They're available wherever you found this one. We have great things coming up, the biggest of which is a new virtual event taking place on the 28th and 29th of April 2021.

It's called EdTech Update, and it will be an opportunity for the community to come together once again and discuss what has been happening in the ad tech sector in recent months. We want to celebrate the achievements and efforts of educators and professionals and reflect on what is here to stay among the innovations experienced in the past year.

If you want to join us for the two day event, just go to and register for free. This is it for me today. But we'll be back soon with new episodes and more updates. Until then, goodbye.