Addressing digital exclusion and building upon education technology opportunities.

The use of technology for education has largely been viewed as a challenge but does offer opportunities for the UK at a practical and strategic level. The utilisation of technology in education is a challenge as shown by the focus upon digital exclusion throughout the pandemic. Digital exclusion is a symptom and a driver of social exclusion. According to Ofcom, around 9% of children in the UK (at most 1.8 million children) do not have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home. It is also reported that more than 880,000 of homes without laptop, desktop or tablet only have a mobile internet connection. Digital exclusion can deepen the North/South divide and the interconnections between digital and education can compound some of the major economic development challenges. The government is providing more than one million laptops and tablets to those without adequate provision and internet providers have supported many families in accessing resources. Educational technology is an opportunity because there are longer term adoption benefits which could unlock educational attainment improvements, productivity enhancements and also at an economic development level, can unlock nascent local growth sectors (e.g. EdTEch in Sheffield). Covid-19 has driven the rapid uptake of digital technology across the country by students and teaching roles. The speed at which schools have pivoted to deliver is both impressive and highlights an opportunity to be capitalised upon. The next question explores this in more detail.




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