Acting on the Global EdTech Blueprint
Devising innovations to reach across borders and cultural boundaries
by Dr. Rod Berger
Dr. Matt Harris is the Owner and Chief Consultant for International EdTech, and is a real globetrotter. When I recently talked to him, he was in Singapore after returning from Kuwait, Indonesia, and Hong Kong. He is a presenter for eight different sessions at the 2019 Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida from January 27th through the 30th, including as leader of the day-long Blueprint for Technology in Education summit on the 27th.
Matt presented at FETC last year, as well, and found the entire experience globally important. “We had people from four different continents speaking three or four different languages,” Matt remembers. “We talked about technology as this unifying force across the board, which was just fascinating.” Matt is thankful that FETC continues to maintain a commitment to a widely inclusive edtech blueprint and to globalizing the approach to teaching and learning.
FETC 2018 established panels of experts to talk about the current state of education from a theoretical level and Matt is excited that this year, they’re mixing the theoretical panels with more practical applications. “We’re doing some workshops and presentations where people can delve deep into the content,” Matt says. “We’re going to have more of these experts back to talk about what life is like in the real world.”
At last year’s conference, Matt and his colleagues discussed creating an edtech blueprint to reach across borders and cultural boundaries. “I continued to have conversations with the panelists and people I had talked to,” Matt says. “We started having real in-depth fundamental discussions and conversations about what technology looks like in a classroom or a district regardless of location. How do we focus on basic infrastructure and education and leadership?”
All the key concepts of the edtech blueprint brought forward are things that Matt has discovered around the world. “We’re finding them in every institution that I visit whether it’s an individual school or classroom, even large ministries that are trying to create digital transformation within their schools,” he says. He mentioned a conversation he had a couple of weeks ago with a group in Botswana in Southern Africa and they are having the same discussions he’s been having with educators working with schools in Florida. The issues, problems, and even solutions are surprisingly common across borders and cultures.
The one barrier Matt sees to getting everyone on the same page is the lack of a common terminology or vocabulary when it comes to edtech. “We’re taking a real calculated approach bringing expert advisors from around the world to make sure that the language that we develop around technology for schools is something that’s accessible and usable by everybody,” Matt says. “The global market for edtech far exceeds the market within the United States, so it’s important that people working on the same thing in other countries have a collaborative way by using the same language and terms, which is the potential and the promise of the technology anyway.”
Despite the prevailing view in America that we set the pace and standards for the rest of the world, from Matt’s global perspective, the rest of the world is exploding with innovation while the U.S. is advancing the education agenda slowly and methodically.
“Looking at the growth of edtech in Dubai or the advances in Northern Africa from one month to the next,” Matt points out, “things have changed drastically, while the U.S. has a regular steady, mature growth that isn’t amazing anymore. We’re not ‘exploding’ the world like we used to.” Matt warns that to keep up, we need to embrace the fourth industrial revolution model that’s transforming the international business community and bring it into the education space to continue to help it grow into the unified global view of what educational technology really can be.
Has edtech changed education as much as technology has transformed the world of healthcare and medicine? Technology should have an equal if not greater impact on education, but it hasn’t. Matt places some of the blame on some administrators who have been promoted through the ranks. He points out that in their teacher and administrative training they haven’t had a discussion about the data, messaging or using systems to their full potential. Matt says this lack of understanding is the key element in the failure of edtech implementation.
“Our job as educators is to teach students to use the tools of information for purpose, for health, for career growth, for knowledge about society, and for critical thinking,” Matt says. “We have those clear outcomes that we’re aiming at because that’s what educators do.”
About Dr. Matt Harris
Matt Harris, Ed.D. is the Owner and Chief Consultant for International EdTech. In his role, he works as an educational consultant for schools and Ministries of Education in the Middle East, Africa, North America, Australia, and Asia. His work also expands the use of libraries, Digital Citizenship, information literacy, STEM, and other digital resources across all grade levels. Dr. Harris is also known for his conference speaking, written works, and consulting practice in educational technology, data systems, and school leadership.
Dr. Matt Harris will a be presenter for eight sessions at the 2019 Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) from January 27th-30th in Orlando, Florida. The conference will bring together thousands of educators and technology leaders for an intensive, highly collaborative exploration of new technologies, best practices and pressing issues. Registration is now open.
Matt will be presenting or participating on the panels in the following sessions:
- C041 | Realizing Technology’s Promise to Enhance Global Engagement and Equitable Access
- BTES1 | The Global Landscape of Educational Technology — Trends and Successes
- BTES2 | Advancing a Global Blueprint for Technology in Education
- BTES3 | Put the Learning Before the Technology
- BTES5 | What Does Tech-Savvy Educational Leadership Look Like?
- BTES6 | Crafting Your Action Plan: Leveraging Technology in Our Schools
- BTES19 | The Blueprint for Technology in Education Summit
- BTES4 | Making the Right Decisions Around Data System and Technology Tools