Calling All UK Techie Teachers

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Calling All UK Techie Teachers

Series of workshops and camps aim to inspire England's teachers to try their hand at edtech

By Betsy Corcoran (Columnist)     Jun 4, 2013

Calling All UK Techie Teachers

How do you encourage teachers to do more edtech development? Share it--and then teach 'em how to build it.

That's the starting point for Richard Taylor, long-time entrepreneur and edtech investor (and occasional EdSurge contributor) and Australian ex-pat, now living in London.

Beginning in September, Taylor plans to launch a series of 10 free one-day workshops through England, all aimed at sharing with teachers some of the latest innovations in technology--from Raspberry Pi, to MakeyMakey, Swivl and plenty of software. Taylor expects to have as many as 50 teachers at any one of his events.

At the conclusion of that event series, he plans to run two week-long "pre-incubator" camps at Cambridge University--to give teachers a chance to develop edtech ideas into products that they might use in the classroom or even sell to make money for their schools. Those sessions will culminate in the now familiar edtech "demo day" with a £2,500 prize and the pledge of ongoing mentoring and support.

All the gatherings--from the workshops to the week-long camps--will be free to teachers, Taylor says. Footing the bill is the Cambridge Assessment and Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR), England's leading public exam board. Mark Dawe, chief executive of OCR, said in a statement that he hopes to encourage teachers to use their own experiences to identify gaps in the edtech market and "to be active, not passive consumers of edtech."

Taylor has been inspired both by the success of Startup Weekends and by the story of England's Thomas Telford School, which has served students ages 11 through 18 for the past 11 years. Telford has become one of the highest performing schools in the country--and until recently it also earned hefty revenues selling its online curriculum through a subsidiary, TTSOnline Ltd.

Whether teachers will wind up building products and companies isn't the end goal for Taylor: "The key idea of these programs is to get teachers and schools to realize that that they have a central role in planning and and developing edtech products."

Teachers will be able to sign up for the upcoming seminars via a webpage that Taylor says will go live in a couple of weeks: OCR also plans to recruit teachers it works with at schools throughout England.

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