This year’s EduTech Europe had a jam-packed agenda and at NetSupport we were delighted to be technology partners supporting the event.  

There were numerous superb keynote speakers, fireside chats and panel debates with some key stakeholders and important thought leaders in the effective uses of technology to support teaching and learning.  

Panel discussion on artificial intelligence 
Speaking of thought leaders, we were delighted that our CEO, Al Kingsley, chaired an important panel discussion exploring “What AI can do now and what the future holds” on the first day of the two-day event.  

Joining Al on the panel were Professor Rose Luckin from UCL, Sharon Bruton, CEO of the Quest Schools Trust and Justin Agilo, Senior Director at the Readiness Institute from Penn State University.

Justin spoke passionately about the moral imperative we have as educators to use technology: “…no matter what we define AI, I think that everyone can agree that AI influences every major sector in industry, community and education and at least we should understand and know the basic definitions of AI and never stop learning and researching about AI.”  Al recognised this and that AI is and can be a complex topic.  

Perceptions and ethics 

Sharon moved on to discuss the perceptions of AI. She said there’s a broad spectrum of understanding but, within that, with the sector being so new, that it “is part of the excitement and also part of the challenge”, while mentioning the importance of recognising the ethical issues behind the use of AI in education. She also shared that her students understand the benefits that AI can bring to them and their learning but recognised that, “the reality and perception of AI is that we don’t fully grasp what it can do for us in how we bring it together in a blended approach. It isn’t an either/or approach for me, it’s a both ‘and’ and how we make the most of the power that it can bring and the efficiencies it can bring…”. 

Helping educators to learn about AI 

Rose brought things back to one of Justin’s original points, where he had shared one of the original quotations about what AI actually is. She said, “AI was born out of education […] and now we really need to make sure that we leverage that because it is all about intelligence actually, fundamentally it’s all about intelligence and it’s all about blending human and artificial intelligence.”  

Rose went on to unpick some things that Justin and Sharon had shared around the issue of fakes (i.e. those tools which say that they are AI but aren’t actually AI) and moved onto sharing about the work of the Institute for Ethical AI in Education. One of the pieces of work they have undertaken is to create a framework document for educators to learn about and reap the benefits of ethical uses of AI. The document can be found from the University of Buckingham here 

Evidence is key 

Bringing things together, Al rightly commented on the powerful movement in edtech now to provide an evidence base for the effective use of technology in the classroom – and endorsed Rose’s efforts with the Institute to help provide teachers and leaders with robust ideas, knowledge and learning about what AI is, how it can be leveraged and the sorts of hallmarks you should expect to get from a product claiming to be one that incorporates AI into its delivery.  

This connects with our recent work with Education Alliance Finland, with their research into the efficacy of our product. Whilst not an AI product, we recognised the importance of evidencing its pedagogical efficacy and were so pleased when it scored a 94/100 rating on their scale of pedagogical effectiveness.  

All in all, it was a superb panel discussion and, should you wish to find out more about the panellists and their work, you can follow them on Twitter via their linked names here: Al KingsleyJustin AgiloRose Luckin and Sharon Bruton