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Learning Library Blog Edtech for Good: Experts Weigh In
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Esperanza Conference 2023

The rapid inroads that ChatGPT has made into our everyday lives has brought the role of technology in education to the forefront again. Building on the theme of student agency at the 2022 Asia Education Summit, ISTE and Esperanza delved into the topic of how AI can make teaching and learning more personalized and effective at the 2023 event.

Learner agency would not be possible without listening to the voices of students. The summit opened with a conversation between John C. Tsang, founder of Esperanza, and students Eunice Tang from The Education University of Hong Kong Jockey Club Primary School and Justin Yu from Po Leung Kuk Choi Kai Yau School. Both students articulated examples of how technology can make learning easier and more fun. Eunice wants more freedom to explore the world of learning, and Justin suggested a shift from memorization to skills-based learning. He also stressed the need for more discussions on the ethical use of AI.

Does Technology Make Us More Human or Less Human?

Joseph South, ISTE chief innovation officer, quoted a recent survey involving 350 business consultants showing that in certain tasks, ChatGPT can enable people to be more productive but there are also things that humans do better, such as tasks that require cognitive and social skills. And durable skills, such as leadership, character, creativity and mindfulness, are becoming essential in the workforce.

South said schools have to refocus what they are doing in order to prepare students for the future. For example, he said there is little value in training students in the type of learning that machines can do better than humans.

Teaching math needs to stress computational thinking and modeling, rather than memorizing formulas. Digital literacy needs to become multimodal literacy. And civics needs to focus on digital citizenship and ultimately the UN Sustainable Development Goals so that students understand their role as changemakers.

Our method of teaching also needs to change by focusing less on lectures and more on problem-based learning, group work and community engagement.

ISTE believes educators should help students move from just being digital consumers to becoming digital creators. We also need to shift from knowledge acquisition to skill-based learning.

The ISTE Standards, a framework that focuses on seven identities we want young people to embrace — including empowered learners, digital citizens, knowledge constructors, innovative designers, computational thinkers, global collaborators, creative communicators and innovative designers — are a way to help make that shift happen.

“The good news and the bad news is that ultimately it’s our choice; whether technology makes us more human or less human,” South said.

Edtech Recommendations From Edventures

Every year, Esperanza organizes an Edventures Global Business Acceleration Fellowship to identify fast-growing and proven edtech solutions and introduce them to Asia. Six companies from different parts of the world demonstrated the role of AI and other technologies in making teaching and learning more effective.

iBlüm (Canada): This is a one-stop platform with a proprietary system designed to observe and collect data on the development level of children. It makes recommendations and generates learning content for teachers as well as notifying parents about the data collected.

Lamsa (UAE): This is an edutainment platform that provides game-based and personalized learning and insights for teachers and parents on student performance.

Century (UK): This is a teaching and learning platform with a proprietary personalized recommendation system that helps students move through the curriculum and reduces the workload of teachers by helping them plan, deliver lessons and assess progress.

House of Math (Norway): This is a personalized and gamified way to motivate students to learn math.

Mandarin Matrix (Hong Kong): This affordable virtual platform where second language learners can study Mandarin addresses the shortage of Mandarin teachers worldwide.

MEL Science (UK): Make Everyone Love Science offers a fun way to learn science by offering hands-on experiment kits and an app with VR video instruction.

Zzish (UK): This quiz platform entices learners with innovative games and offers rich data to help educators personalize teaching.

Conditions for Successful Tech Integration in Classrooms

A panel of experts from around the world weighed in on the role of technology in education.

Jason Prohaska, the educational technologies lead for the English Schools Foundation, believes ChatGPT presents a great opportunity for educators to make personalized learning at scale a reality.

Philp Law, vice principal of the Education University of Hong Kong Jockey Club Primary School, emphasized the importance of teaching AI literacy not just as an extracurricular activity but a core part of the curriculum. He also underscored the importance of building an innovation culture and giving teachers a sense of ownership.

Benjamin Sheridan, an education consultant based in Asia, pointed out the need for intentional design (i.e. how the technology is solving a problem) to focus on relationships and experiences in the learning environment and instill confidence in teachers. It is also essential to develop systems and structures to support safe and ethical use with students.

How to Choose the Right Edtech

Choosing the right edtech products can be a challenge for educators because there are so many options and it's time-consuming to vet them.

South explained how ISTE is trying to address that problem with the ISTE Seal, which evaluates and recognizes quality edtech solutions, based on usability, digital pedagogy and the ISTE Standards.

Educators have to create a mechanism to try out products, agree on criteria, get feedback along the way and measure the outcome against the criteria.

Sheridan recommended small pilots with tight iteration cycles, while Law added that financial sustainability is also key. The panel also emphasised the importance of making sure parents understand the objectives and the processes. South concluded by reminding audiences that technology is not the solution but an accelerator. It will accelerate what we do, good and bad. It is important to know what we really want out of it.

EdTech Hero Award Winners

Esperanza launched the EdTech Heroes Award earlier this year to celebrate the early adopters of edtech in Hong Kong. The winners were:

Grand Award: The Education University of Hong Kong Jockey Club Primary School

Vision Award: Victoria Shanghai Academy

Stakeholder Engagement Award: Po Leung Kuk Choy Kai Yau School

Best Choice of Solution Award: BrainX Training Centre

Best Implementation Award: Fukien Secondary School Affiliated School

Learning Experience Award: Kowloon Bay St. John The Baptist Catholic Primary School