EdTech @OswestrySchool

Here's the thing: I would love to go to the office in shorts and flip flops and nip off for a surf at lunchtime, whilst still feeling that the work I did was making the world a better place.

Perhaps naively, I have in my head an image of that sort of life for the residents of Palo Alto, California - the beating heart of innovation in technology. And so it was that I jumped at the chance to go to an event run by Richard Taylor, who carries with him the whiff of an alternative life, of glamour, influence and - let's be honest - a slightly better salary than the one I currently enjoy.

Richard is enthusiastic, seems to know everyone, and has invested in some great fledgling companies including NightZookeeper, Edapt and NearDesk. When I went to the finals of EdInvent last year Richard offered to come up to Oswestry and run something similar for us in school and I jumped at the chance.

The kids, dragooned into attendance by virtue of studying computer science or ICT, quickly rose to the challenge. This was all as new for them as it had been for me a few months back. In his inimitable way Richard got them fired up from the off by waving around £100 and offering it to anyone who could answer his first question.

As the day wore on they learn about what works and what doesn't in EdTech, how to gauge the size of a market, how to make a pitch and - perhaps most importantly of all - that they had ideas worth airing too. All the while the diminutive antipodean danced around excitedly encouraging and chastising by turns as the pupils worked on their submissions. True, by the end of the day no million dollar companies had been dreamt up, but Rome wasn't build in a day.

There are now plenty of Oswestrians in whom a seed has been sown. Both they and I are enormously grateful for the time Richard was willing to invest in helping them develop their ideas and learn about the process of developing technologies that have the power to make a real difference to people's lives.

For anyone else wanting to set something similar up in their schools in the future, I'd be happy to offer my pearls of wisdom.

Post Script: thanks must go too, of course, to Ian Nairn of C-learning and to Neil Ruby for their help in judging pupils' submissions at the end of the competition.


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