EdTech Reloaded

Announcing my return to the frontline of educational technology

After a wonderful few years as a freelance gunslinger that included; writing a best-selling book on global education and the impact of technology, keynoting at some of the worlds largest education summits, and consulting for some of the worlds most valuable companies and exciting start-ups, I’m delighted to announce that I’ve joined pi-top as their Head of Education.

I’d venture that the last 4 years since leaving Learning Without Frontiers and my preoccupation with anticipatory research, global education policy and the future of learning have lead to this. In particular, the last two projects that I worked on this year provided special context for this next chapter in my career.

We The Educators was a programme that I led on behalf of a collaborative coalition between Education International, Canadian Teachers’ Federation and Alberta Teachers’ Association. The project catalysed a new global conversation about the future of public education and the competing forces of personalisation and standardisation. We produced free resources and short films that were made available to more than 32 million global teachers within the coalition network of teaching unions.

Education and the Fourth Industrial Revolution was a research project that I completed on behalf of the Canadian public broadcaster, TFO. The project took me on a deep dive that explored the anticipated impact of the fourth industrial revolution on income security and social agency. I then cross-referenced this against the existential challenges of this century, e.g. climate change, population growth, the precariat, etc, and then made recommendations for how we transform education to prepare present and future generations.

A report that I produced as part of this work may be published at a future date but in the meantime is available as a keynote talk for events during the 2017/2018 season (hint, see my agent).

Education and the way we use technology to augment it will, in my opinion, be a defining activity that determines our future success as a species.

However, the standardisation of education as an industrial process under the GERM (Global Education Reform Movement) is counter to the opportunities and challenges presented by the fourth industrial revolution and our sustainability as a species.

As I’ve lamented elsewhere, many technology companies – some funded by dinosaur text book companies, are intent on efficiently delivering the 19th century standard model of education via 21st century technology as if it were business as usual. The standard model, based on inculcating facts and procedures into the empty vessels of children’s minds then measuring their recall, was designed for the needs of a different industrial age. We now need a new model that is based around the creation of new facts and procedures by the learners themselves which includes the teachers. We need autonomous lifelong learners who have learned how to learn and how to solve interesting problems.

It occurs to me that there are two types of “EdTech” company; the ones who are digitising 19th century practice to automate teaching and the ones who are creating platforms upon which we learn the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in a transforming world.

pi-top is one of the second type and this is why I’ve joined them.

Derek, Jesse, Ryan, Daryl

Less than 3 years old, pi-top was founded by Jesse Lozano and Ryan Dunwoody who created a low cost laptop and operating system that invites learners and hobbyists to explore making and problem solving in the digital world. Today, pi-top employs more than 60 people and has studios in London (UK), Austin (USA) and Shenzhen (China) supporting a global distribution network for its platform and nearly half a million users.

I first met the founders of pi-top more than a year ago when they were operating from their electronic kinderbunker near Hackney. I was so impressed by what they were doing that I bought one of their computers on the spot. If I was the Simon Cowell of technology I would have signed up the founders as a super talented boy band. Although, to be honest, I’m more Malcolm McLaren.

I could tell you about pi-top’s roadmap to the future of STEAM education but then I’d have to kill you. Suffice to say that I feel privileged to be a part of their one direction so, take that. 😉

Finally, I took up my post on the 1st September, the same day that LCD Soundsystem released their immense comeback album, “American Dream”.

A coincidence? I think not.

Wish me luck. I’m going in. 😃