Ex-Becta chief says UK must invest more in learning technologies

By Computing staff
15 Sep 2011 View Comments
Empty classroom with traditional tables and chairs and a blackboard

The UK is lagging behind emerging economies when it comes to investing in technology in education, according to ex-Becta CEO and director of global education implementation for Cisco, Steven Crowne, who was speaking at a Westminster eForum event earlier this week.

Crowne told delegates at the event, entitled The Future of Technology in Education, that emerging markets China, Brazil and India are investing significantly in technology within schools because they have recognised the link between ICT and computing education and strong economic performance.

"They have received that message loud and clear," he said.

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"These countries are driving much harder than we are. Although many are playing catch-up, their drive may see us lose our edge."

He also had a message for the government around enhancing the take-up and use of technology by and within schools.

He argued that schools needed both a clear national strategy and good local or granular understanding of the type of technology they wanted to buy.

He also said it was important for them to recognise that prescription by government and local innovation are not necessarily opposites, and that government-endorsed universal platforms and locally sourced technologies can work side by side.

Crowne said the government should provide help with building and sharing information around the effective use of IT and that it also has a role in brokering supply and demand to intervene where the market does not come to a satisfactory solution.

"A case in point might be broadband access or single sign on," he said.

Some schools will not be able to get access to broadband via the market because it is too expensive, and others may not have the technical capabilities in-house to implement single sign on.

In both cases the government will have an important role as broker, he said.

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