A scientist’s opinion : Interview with Prof. Rose Luckin about digital education

Rose Luckin is a professor at University College London. She is also the director of EDUCATE, a London based hub for educational technology start-ups, researchers and educators.

What is your own favourite tool in digital education?

Professor Rose LuckinRose Luckin: It’s not so much a tool as a way of thinking. It’s helping people to understand how artificial intelligence can be used to improve digital education. We should think beyond the applications that we have at the moment. We could have education that is much more driven by data. I am convinced that in this way we can have more appropriate education for everyone. I would like that schools, colleges and universities see themselves through their data, that they will analyse these data and take informed decisions where they can apply AI-tools the best in the future.

What is your biggest worry about digital education at present?

Rose Luckin: I worry that educators have too many possible tools to use and that many of those tools they even can’t afford. How do they know what the best thing for their school is? I see it as one of my tasks to provide them with more clarity.

Apart from being a professor at UCL you are also the director of EDUCATE. What is EDUCATE?

Rose Luckin: EDUCATE is a kind of umbrella for start-up companies in educational technology. We do both training and research. Educational technology has a lot of potential, but we need evidence based ways to find out what really works in teaching and learning. At EDUCATE, we’re working to make educational research more accessible and usable, so that we can ensure educational technology is robust, valid and fit for purpose. Between 2017 and 2019 EDUCATE was funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Often there is a strong technological push from technology companies towards digitising education. How do you withstand that push?

Rose Luckin: Far too often an enthusiastic teacher brings a piece of technology into the school but some time later it turns out that nobody uses it. We have developed a methodology to help companies create evidence based technological tools. The methodology is based on what we call the Golden Triangle. ‘Golden’ refers to using data as the source of evidence. The ‘Triangle’ refers to a close cooperation between developers, users and researchers. There is a need for educational technology to be robust and effective and that this must continue to drive its design and development, not least because this is going to become a more competitive market and users need to know what they can rely on. As part of the EDUCATE programme we developed special awards, the EdWards, as a form of recognition for companies who were applying sound research approaches to their practice.

Thinking about the period after the lockdowns, can you imagine a hybrid solution of students going four days to school while on the fifth day distance learning from home?

Rose Luckin: I think some hybrid solution will have to be invented when the lockdowns will be gradually released. Due to social distancing measures, not all children will return to school at the same time. But in the longer run the question is how manageable such a hybrid solution will be. For older children it might be easier to implement than for younger children, who need to be more looked after.

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