School · startup

PRESS RELEASE: AttendApp successfully accepted on to Web Summit Alpha Program 2017

AttendApp has been successfully accepted on to the Alpha Program of Web Summit 

London, 9th October 2017

Attendapp has been selected as one of the few hundred startups which will be present on the SaaS specialist day at Web Summit 2017, which is taking place in Lisbon between 6-9th November 2017.

About AttendApp

AttendApp is a Parent Relationship Management (‘PRM’) tool which allows schools to inform, interact, measure and increase parental engagement in a simple, secure and social way across mobile technologies

For more information please contact:



Five edtech pitfalls – and how to avoid them (THE)

Five edtech pitfalls – and how to avoid them

Ahead of Jisc Digifest 2017, Geoff Mulgan has some words of advice for those involved in digital education

Banana skin, pitfall, risk
Source: iStock

The UK is a strong leader in digital technologies and in higher education, but we don’t do so well in combining the two. There are some dramatic exceptions, such as the creation of The Open University, but add-on innovation has been the norm.

Higher education has seen little of the more fundamental innovation that has transformed retail, travel and music. So, how could higher education make the most of new streams of digital innovation?

Communications technologies have always shaped education, from scrolls to printed books to television. And radio was used to broadcast lectures even before 1920. The Open University, launched in the late 1960s, and its emulators in countries such as India and China, have used these audiovisual and, more recently, digital tools to reach tens of millions of students.

In more recent decades, the internet has opened up many new ways to share content, to connect students and teachers, and to organise assessment. In the near future, we can expect a continuing flood of innovations making use not just of social media, but also of virtual and augmented reality, and machine learning.

But the novelty of these tools means that there are likely to be as many failures as successes. Here are my five common digital pitfalls – and suggestions on how they can be avoided.

Drawing on history

The most surprising pitfall is our repeated failure to learn. Recent and very visible innovations in digital higher education have come mainly from the US, where large sums have been invested in edX, Coursera, Udacity and other massive open online course (Mooc) providers.

These are impressive in many ways, but much less impressive in their failure to take account of decades of experience with online learning. That led to poor levels of completion and engagement, and a failure to develop convincing revenue models. So although by some measures Moocs have been a great success – with tens of millions signed up – they have had much less impact than they could have had, with many acting as little more than marketing front ends for traditional universities.

Mobilising social and peer effects

A key lesson is that we don’t learn that well by just having content projected at us. Instead, we need feedback, and often we need peer encouragement and pressure. That was well understood years ago by the OU – which was why tutors and summer camps complemented the broadcast materials on offer.

It’s also been key to the success of the OU’s Mooc platform FutureLearn – now with some 5 million students – which has encouraged learners to link together horizontally as well as vertically. A related innovation has been crowdteaching: educators working together to create, share and adapt curricula and classroom activities online, using their peers’ work to serve the needs of students. Coventry University’s #Phonar course is a particularly good example of this, having drawn tens of thousands of people into contributing as well as learning.

Reviewing business models

A third consistent weakness of recent digital experiments has been insufficient attention to business models and revenues. Too often, the hope has been “if you build, it they will come”.

For some Moocs, like the Khan Academy, that benefit from large philanthropic grants, this doesn’t matter much. Others are having to cope with insufficient revenues by experimenting with charging for certificates, linking students with potential employers, and charging for supplementary services. Coursera, for example, has moved to work much more with employers.

But the risk here, as with so much internet-based provision, is that the employer – not the student – ends up not being viewed as the client.

Experimenting and testing

The fourth problem is one that afflicts all of edtech: a failure to systematically experiment. It is rare for ideas to work first time. That’s why vigorous experiment, ideally with control groups, is so vital.

There’s no shortage of ideas ready for larger-scale experiment. Take the new tools for assessment and feedback, like the intelligent assessment technology (IAT) engine created by the OU – designed to deliver instant feedback to help students monitor their progress and encourage communication with tutors. The feedback is tailored to allow each student to improve their responses.

Other interesting tools are the small private online courses (SPOCs), which allow professors to engage with a targeted group of learners, who gain from a thorough and intimate course environment. Uses of artificial intelligence – which can greatly enhance adaptive learning – are also ripe for experiment. But there is no systematic funding or orchestration of these opportunities at present.

Bringing together evidence

The fifth pitfall is particularly ironic for universities. Many other fields now have systematic repositories of evidence. These exist for primary and secondary schooling, and for early intervention. But there’s nothing comparable for higher education.

As a result, there is no systematic pooling of what’s known to work, for example, in the burgeoning field of adaptive learning tools. The result is a great deal of wasted effort.

There can be little doubt that digital technologies will continue to transform every aspect of higher education, from research and teaching to assessment. Predictions that the traditional university would be replaced wholesale have proved to be unfounded. But it would be surprising to me if much of the daily life of universities did not change profoundly.

Higher education is not an industry. But it is a major source of employment, earnings and opportunity. The lack of government support is a striking contrast with other industries, like aerospace, digital and genomics, which have had generous public subsidy; recognition that long-term investment pays off; and constant efforts to align law and regulation with innovation funding.

Part of the reason is that when higher education does have the chance to lobby ministers, universities generally argue for their own particular interests, or for greater freedoms in the present rather than seeking support for future innovation. If we’re to retain our position as a global leader of higher education, and one with digital innovation at its core, this will have to change.

Geoff Mulgan is chief executive of Nesta (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts), and keynote speaker at Jisc’s Digifest 2017. Times Higher Education is a media sponsor for the event.


MOOC Offers Assistance on Designing Blended Learning Courses (Campus Learning)

MOOC Offers Assistance on Designing Blended Learning Courses

University of Central Florida (UCF) and Educause have re-launched a no-cost massive open online course (MOOC) that offers facilitated assistance to faculty members and instructional designers who want to develop blended courses.

BlendKit2017: Becoming a Blended Learning Designer, hosted on Instructure‘s Canvas Network, will be facilitated by Sue Bauer and Baiyun Chen, instructional designers at UCF’s Center for Distributed Learning. Throughout the five-week course, participants will explore key issues related to blended learning and best practices. They will also receive step-by-step guidance on developing design documents, creating content pages and other materials needed for a blended course.

The MOOC includes:

  • Practical step-by-step “how to” guides;
  • Assessment and critique on design work from course experts and peers;
  • Blogging and social networking opportunities; and
  • Weekly webinars with guest presenters.

BlendKit2017 runs Feb. 27 to May 22. The course is free, but students can choose to participate in the $89 certification track to have their portfolios reviewed. The track includes a certificate and digital badge from UCF and Educause.

The MOOC is the fifth iteration between Educause and UCF. The course was funded by a Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) grant in 2011, which leveraged UCF’s expertise to create BlendKit as a free, open resource for other higher education institutions.

To learn more about what BlendKit2017 entails, watch the video below.


The Education Age (HuffBlog)

Today, the average three or four-year-old is proficient in using technology. They can navigate around intuitive phones and tablets leaving the most tech-savvy parents bemused. As a means of protection, we often try to discourage this usage and minimise screen time. We hark back to the days of climbing trees and rolling down hills, and rightly so. However, as much as we try to shield our mobile natives – Gen Z and Gen Alpha – from technology, the fact is, they are submerged in it, and contrary to popular belief, it’s not all bad.

Let’s face it, the next generation are being born with computers in hand. Everything from their thermometers to their passports are digital and so it should be. It’s the way that the world is turning and there is tremendous benefit to be gained from this.

One place where technology is making a positive impact for both children and guardians is in schools. Education has long been run on archaic methods but this is slowly changing to reflect today’s children in today’s connected society.

New generations are experiencing technology for the first time outside of school – it’s used for socialising or entertainment so why not embrace it in an environment that has been developed to teach and hone understanding.

As technology becomes an intrinsic part of our everyday lives what are the benefits to introducing it into the classroom? And how can we best implement and manage the technology and its users?

Making Learning Dynamic

Technology is without doubt a disruptive force in schools. The ability of interactive whiteboards, tablets, wearable devices and video sharing facilities to deliver engaging and exciting new ways to teach and learn cannot be underestimated.

At last month’s Bett Conference the technology on display was worlds apart from the traditional classroom. The four -day conference showcased everything from robots that teach children how to ski on school trips, drones that are used for after school drone clubs to AR which has enabled students at an Ohio university to dissect bones and organs and view veins in detail.

IT in schools can also enable parents to gain a better understanding of their child’s performance – whether that’s viewing and tracking performance online, or using video webinar resources to view and understand more about the curriculum and the topics they explore. Greater use of technology can help parents be part of the learning process too. Increasing productivity through the use of digital. For example, it can enable homework to be sent home instantly via an online portal or email. Increasing efficiency and maximising output.

Beyond changing the interaction between teacher and parent, more importantly, is the impact on the relationship between teacher and student. Today teachers are having to think of evermore imaginative ways to captivate their young audience and technology could be the answer. A connected classroom could provide the ability to personalise lessons for children regardless of their abilities and provide a more interactive learning environment which could equally ease teacher workloads. Many virtualised learning now, enable students to dynamically access information and collaborate interactively with teaching staff – saving students and teachers time and governments money.

Lingering Doubt

Despite the rapid rate of growth and investment in education technology – our recent research into ‘Digital Dexterity’, for example, found that over half of office workers feel that schools are currently providing students with the digital skills they need – doubt still lingers around the digitisation of our classrooms. How far is technology a worthwhile investment in a sector that’s already facing serious funding challenges, and are we really using it to its full potential?

To gain some insight into this issue, 1,000 A-Level students were questioned last year about their attitudes towards technology at school. The results were revelatory, with 73% of the teenagers saying they felt frustrated at the inability of their teachers to use the technologies available to them effectively. The knock-on effects of this are serious; lack of concentration, impaired learning and reduced engagement to name but a few.

Implementing technology schemes is all about engaging with teachers first, to deliver tailored solutions fit for their needs. The right technology partner – one that understands how to harness IT to improve education, manage change effectively, and develop the skills of those using the technology – will help schools feel the benefits of these new ways of teaching.

Further education on technology must become stronger so graduates and school leavers are ready for the future that lies ahead of them. Let’s awaken teaching to the opportunities enhanced use of technology presents, and develop an education system that can flourish in this new age. As a nation, we must work together to inspire more young people to learn digital skills before entering the workplace.

If I were you I’d look forward to a future where textbooks are replaced by software on a connected university campus, and you out away your devices for tree climbing at the weekends.