This is an edited version of an article originally published on: Al Kingsley

Early one grey October morning, in a secret location in the east of England, six education technology and safeguarding experts gathered in cosy surroundings for coffee and bacon sandwiches. Well, ok, not just that… Their mission? To put the world to rights on key questions such as the pros and cons of edtech in the classroom; digital citizenship; how schools choose technology – and the steps they are taking to not only safeguard their students, but how they can learn from them (yes, them!) about how they use technology now, plus what the school EdTech landscape could look like in the future.

The cast

Our panel of specialists brought a vast amount of varied and valuable knowledge and experience to the table. Representing the classroom perspective, we had Natalie Nezhati, a former English teacher and now an Education Content Consultant – and Mark Anderson, a former secondary school teacher turned ICT Evangelist. In the safeguarding and online safety corner, we had Alan Mackenzie, specialist adviser to schools for all things eSafety, and Henry Platten, founder of eCadets, the pupil-powered online safety education programme and social media platform for under-13s, GoBubble. Taking a unique dual role as Chair of a multi academy Trust and MD of NetSupport, we had our very own Al Kingsley – and last but by absolutely no means least, pulling the whole thing together was our host with the most, Russell Prue, who is well known in education circles as the driving force behind school radio company, Anderton Tiger, as well as being an author, inventor and radio broadcaster.

The chat

Duly fortified by caffeine and carbs, the team began their discussion with the pros and cons of edtech. This wide-ranging topic covered issues such as the approaches schools take to implementing technology and how to make it sustainable – to teacher confidence and asking others for help. Above all, they talked about the empowerment factor and how it can and should work for both staff and students.

Next, came the Safeguarding and eSafety section, with some really interesting dialogue on how policy and legislation sometimes gets in the way of the good things that schools are already achieving (such as making great strides in digital citizenship) by keeping things simple – and the areas that have been neglected up to now, but are crying out for attention.

Leading on from this came a great chat about key strategies for deploying IT and the need to keep an eye on costs; the tools schools should be looking to implement to help them run efficiently while delivering valuable functionality that benefits staff and students; why it’s important to ensure IT sustainability – plus how the approach to any implementation is crucial to its eventual success.

Finally, it was fascinating to get our experts’ views on the future of school IT and what it could possibly look like in 10 years’ time. Will it be not too far removed from now, or will there be a radical shift? Watch The Big EdTech Debate here to find out!

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