(To develop more women as Digital Leaders, #WomenEd have partnered with @Microsofteduk and curated four opportunities for digital learning and leadership.Extra information at the end of this blog.)
by Nicole Ponsford @NicolePonsford
Edtech: Time for a Refresh?
When someone says ‘edtech’, who or what do you see?
Is it a male ‘guru’ with his app-sponsorship? Is it an image of girls (in pink) coding? Is it tech and trade shows promoting tech your budget laughs in the face of? Or is it a world that you feel you want to get more involved in, but have no idea where/time to start?
Or, like me, has it been your entire teaching career?
Either way, do you think it is time to make edtech work a bit smarter and harder for you? I know I do.
Who Am I?
I started teaching at the start of the decade and wascatapulted into a HOD position at NQT+1, responsible for 110 A-Level students the following year – on a resource-heavy course that I built from scratch. There wasn’t anyone else doing what I was – no Twitter or lovely supportive online help – so I did what came naturally; I winged it and sought help. I became an examiner to understand the exams. I shadowed the best leaders in education to understand what to do (and what not to). I then created my own networks in schools to give both support to others, and myself. eTeachers, GeeksWhoTeach and DareDevils are some of the emails and domains I still have from creating blogs to share good practice and late night wobbles. Alongside this, I had created new curriculums in schools – which I then led and trained non-specialist staff – BTEC, GCSE, A Levels in Media and Film Studies and a splattering of ‘ICT’. This meant I had to negotiate budgets (from one school with a solitary camera for a whole department to a 15K budget for an inner-city Academy), run my Apple suites alongside arms crossed-PC based school technicians, train non-specialists, all the whilst giving my students industry-standard lessons and career-engaging opportunities (like our trip to LA and the local recording studios). Basically, I learnt a lot. A. Lot.
Suddenly ‘edtech’ seemed cool! Everyone wanted Apple computers and apps and eLearning and eSafety help. Hoorah! I, with my classic sense of timing, then chose this time to have children.
But, that’s the thing with technology – it really can be your fwend. I had wifi and a willingness to ‘play’ with tech and so the last seven years have given me amazing digital opportunities. I continued to work through both sets maternity leave, mainly as I am a complete jitterbug so writing kept me sane, and, with the wealth of opportunities that are out there on MOOCs and online courses, it is a digital sweetshop out there for me.
Edtech highlights now include being the author and founder of TechnoTeachers, due to a chance meeting on LinkedIn. Being asked to speak at BETT, due to my online articles, and last month being the Microsoft Spotlight, due to my digital education work for Achievement for All. Outside of that, I also became an Apple Teacher and a Microsoft Innovator Educator Expert last year. It’s official. I heart edtech.
However, #WomenEd were asking for digital education leaders. They didn’t know where they were. I looked around me, thought a minute, then waved at them. Could I be one?
Apparently I am! As a result, I hooked up with @JulesDaulby (online) and we discussed edtech (and our twins.. a little). I am keen that ‘edtech’ becomes moves away from the dominance of ‘girls & coding’, women in edtech are more celebrated, edtech becomes more gender equal (my second project for this year – watch this space) and more is done to shine a practical light on what women can, and do, achieve when it comes to edtech – in the classroom, in app-development, leadership paths, whatever. I want women in education to be able to ‘see’ what is out there for them – and help them get it. Potentially from their sofas, potentially by meeting them. Their choice.
We have another idea, to help our learners, the girls and young women in our schools and universities, become more edtech confident – but we thought we would start with the teachers first.
Building on these ideas and the incredible WomenEd success including a tech event led by Principle @KirstyTonksSCA, Jules and I came up with two solutions:
- Instead of being a regional lead, I would become a WomenEd_Tech Leader for WomenEd. This means I will offer help to those out there that I can and hope other edteachers would help support our cause.
- Together we would host a @WomenEd_Techsummit.
The thing is, at present, it is just an idea – and an empty Twitter feed – so we need help. And lots of it.
How can you help?
The idea is that we will have a summit, somewhere on the south coast of England, May 2018. Then comes the wish list.
- We want women to be able to get involved in person or online.
- We want to make it truly child-friendly for the women who need to bring their little people.
- We want the edtech giants to support us (please) – to put on women-only education training for educators – run by women with accredited edtech backgrounds.
- We would also like the edtech giants to advise and encourage women to complete their courses, including how to apply for courses such as distinguished educators.
- We would like women in successful edtech roles to offer keynote speeches or for panels – either in person or a link-up.
- We want to ensure that assistive technologies is a key factor at this year’s summit.
- We want to offer networking and reflective time to participants, so they can create supportive networks or have time to complete real edtech courses in real time.
- We want it to be really great.
But most of all we want women to contact us and tell us what they want. What do you need? Who would you like to listen to? How can the edtech world help you – and how can you help in return? And if you aren’t a woman, but a well-placed man – how can you help us raise the profile and confidence of women in edtech?
We can’t wait to hear from you! – Nic and Jules
#WomenEd & Microsoft
To develop more women as Digital Leaders, #WomenEd have partnered with @Microsofteduk and curated four opportunities for digital learning and leadership. Sign up at this link: https://education.microsoft.com/womenedand you can read about the four strands and choose what is relevant for you.
Before you sign up, it would REALLY help us if you contacted Nicole for the #WomenEd promotional code. This helps us to track how many are signing up to show our reach. Thanks a lot!