Current Nesta projects

I’ve been working at Nesta for two weeks now, and it has flown past. It’s a very different organisation to the University I worked in before and there have been a lot of new ways of working to get to grips with and new people to meet. All my colleagues in Nesta and in partner organisations have made me feel very welcome, and I’m excited to be working with such an interesting and diverse group of people. I’m working on quite a range of things within my remit of ‘Digital Education’, alongside conversations about many other things- the work of Nesta is broad and everyone is very collaborative in their work.

For those who may not be familiar, Nesta is a charity funded by the national endowment for science, technology and their arts. Nesta is focused on innovation, with ‘a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life’. As I have understood it from my first two weeks the organisation is split into three sections; policy and research, investments and the innovation lab in which I work.

I’m on the education team, and working on three main projects. In late 2012 Nesta published the ‘Decoding Learning‘ report exploring the impact and potential of digital technology in schools. My projects in many ways are the continuation of this work, with a focus on exploring and evidencing the impact that technology can have on learning. The three projects are:

Making Teaching and Learning Visible – A pilot project exploring the use of real time captioning and transcription for teacher professional development. I’m working with a number of partners on this including Janet Clinton, John Hattie and Kathryn Cairns from the University of Melbourne, and AI Media who provide the technology. We are trialling and developing an approach to professional development with eight primary schools. This project is funded by the Education Endowment Foundation and will be independently evaluated by NatCen Social Research.

Affordable Maths Tutoring – A random controlled trial assessing the impact of remote tutoring on primary level mathematics. Sixty schools will be involved in this trial to evaluate the impact of giving children access to tightly focused one to one sessions with remote tutors using a video conferencing system that includes feedback and assessment for their school based teacher. This project is a partnership with tech startup KnowMaths, and will be independently evaluated by York Trials unit. It is also founded as part of the EEF research funding round on digital education.

‘Flipped Learning’ – An exploratory project looking at the potential of flipped learning for secondary level mathematics. We will be exploring how teachers develop their use of the ‘flipped learning’ approach when provided with instructional video resources, and the potential benefits and drawbacks for learning. This projects is a partnership with NFER and will be taking place in England and Scotland.

I’m currently recruiting schools to take part in these projects in a number of parts of the UK so if you are involved with a school and they have sparked your interest then please get in touch.

Alongside these projects I have already been involved in the ‘Digital Makers‘ fund, discussions about ‘Make Things Do Stuff‘, and conversations of many other aspects of Nesta’s work in public services and the arts. It certainly isn’t an organisation of silos and I can see myself being involved in a wide range of projects in the future.

In all it has been a great start, I’m enjoying the move to London and getting stuck in to some exciting projects. Next week brings further development on recruiting schools for these projects, meetings with evaluation partners and speaking at a number of sessions at BETT as well as catching up with people there. 

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