I taught History and Philosophy in the UK from 1990-2006, with an interest in education technology and data interoperability standards.

In 1996 I became involved in the British Education Suppliers Association standard for Open Integrated Learning System specification (OILS). In 2002-3 I sat on the UK DfE’s Technical Standards Working Group (TSWG) and Learning Platform Stakeholders Group (LPSG) for the Curriculum Online initiative, helping to develop an interoperability framework for learning management systems (LMSs) that referenced the US-based SCORM standard.

In 2007 I founded the Suppliers Association for Learning Technology & Interoperability in Schools (SALTIS) as a working group of BESA, referring the government agency for computers in schools (BECTA) to the European Commission for a breach of public procurement rules in its Learning Platform framework of that year. In 2008, I was hired by BECTA (probably with the encouragement of the Commission as a way of resolving the complaint) to help address the underlying problem with the data interoperability of LMSs. But BECTA was not interested in addressing the real problem of encouraging the development of interactive content, preferring to commit the UK to following an unsatisfactory off-the-shelf solution for expositive content called Common Cartridge, produced by the US-based IMS consortium. This battle was never resolved because BECTA was abolished by the incoming government in early 2010 (a move that I supported) and SALTIS also closed, having been formed as a means of representing the views of the UK edtech industry to BECTA.

I became Chair of IST/043, the British Standards Institute’s committee for IT standards in learning, education and training, representing UK interests at ISO/IEC and CEN, the EU’s standardisation body. But the new Conservative government was not interested in edtech so it was not possible to make any genuine progress with data interoperability in education.

While writing this blog to develop and articulate the theoretical basis for a new approach to edtech, I came out of education for my day-job to run oXya UK, the UK-subsidiary of oXya France, a Hitachi Group company providing technical administration services for medium-to-large companies running SAP landscapes.

I still look for opportunities to persuade government of the potential for a radical new policy for edtech but am no longer actively writing this blog.

5 thoughts on “About

  1. |||| Info about citation of your paper: The problem with “Technology-enhancend learning” ||||

    Dear Crispin Weston,
    your paper is absolutely perfect maybe “genial” 🙂 – this reflects a real situation in real classrooms with living students and teacher !!!

    Stefan Svetsky & Oliver Moravcik; The automation of teaching processes based on
    knowledge processing, Transactions on Machine Learning and Artificial
    Intelligence, Volume 2 No 5 Oct (2014); pp: 60-72. http://scholarpublishing.org/Repository/TMLAI-14-568.pdf

    Kind regards
    Stefan Svetsky

    • Hello Stefan,

      Thanks very much for your comment. I am taking off on a long-haul flight in a couple of hours, so I am looking forward to reading your paper.

      I certainly like the first page. I agree that the problem with digital ed-tech is that it is effectively a layer which sits on top of an underlying native ed-tech – i.e. pedagogy. And in most cases, digital ed-tech as been seen by its proponents as a vehicle for introducing ineffective pedagogy. We should be looking much more at objective-led, transactional and process-led forms of pedagogy.

      I will reply in more detail when I have read your full article – but in the meantime, could I ask you to make your comment again on the article itself (https://edtechnow.net/2012/12/05/tel/), rather than here?

      Many thanks again.

  2. Hi Crispin.

    It is after much time that I have (finally!) returned to your blog to explore your latest thinking on education. I think I share many of your views on this subject, while — as we have demonstrated through discourse on my own blog — we disagree on some aspects. While I believe these disagreements to be largely circumstantial, so be it.

    The reason for this comment is to express that, alas, much of your writing goes over my head. No doubt this is partly due to our respective foci on different sectors, but I suspect it is also due to the cognitive limitations of yours truly.

    Something I would find beneficial is a simple bullet-pointed list of your tenets. Or in other words, a mini manifesto.

    I hope you don’t consider my suggestion facile or disingenuous. On the contrary, it would go a long way to explain the theoretical foundation of your writing so that I (and perhaps other readers) can better understand your arguments.



    • Dear Ryan,

      Thank you very much for getting in touch. Your comment is very helpful – of course it has all to do with my expression and not at all with any limitations on your part.

      I am aware of the problem that many people have in getting to grips with what I am trying to say. I have made some effort to respond by (in my current blog series) trying to cut down the length of my articles. Maybe my problem is that I value/like the debate too much – part of my reason for this is that education appears to be so full of people simply asserting positions, without paying any heed to those who disagree with them. That is why I hesitate just to say “this is how it is” – and particularly when what I am saying runs counter to the assumptions of many teachers. And that is also why I particularly value anyone, such as you, who is prepared to make the intellectual effort to try and engage.

      When I come to the end of my current blog series, I will try and summarize my position with a conclusion along the lines that you suggest. But let me try to give you a first draft. It seems to have fallen into a ten-point manifesto.

      1. There is no great mystery about how to teach at a small scale with an expert teacher. Socrates showed us how, 2,000 years ago, using a method that is still replicated in the Oxford and Cambridge tutorial.

      2. Deep understanding is rare – and it could be argued that it will become increasingly rare as the pace and diversity of technical advance increases.

      3. The fundamental problem in modern, Western education is scale. We don’t have enough teachers with sufficient subject or pedagogical knowledge to teach the numbers of people that we need, and the good teachers that we have are overloaded with too many students to provide the sort of personal attention (e.g. feedback) that research suggests is a vital part of teaching. Yet both economic and political pressures demand every increasing quality of education for larger parts of the curriculum.

      4. In order to address the problem of scale, we need to systematize those parts of the teacher’s job that may be systematized (which is substantial). Previous attempts to do this have had only modest success (Nuffield Combined Science was one of the more interesting attempts) – but modern digital technology provides us with the means to do what in the past has been too difficult from a logistical perspective.

      5. The potential of computers to help teachers rests a number of key affordances: the interactivity of digital software (this is important because we learn by doing and receiving feedback on what we do); the adaptability of software (and teacher intervention also needs to be highly adaptable to the circumstances of an individual student); the ability to track and aggregate data (which is vital to close the feedback loop, something that the Assessment for Learning experience has shown teachers to be bad at, as well as supporting better theory, which at the moment is difficulty, given that our evidence base in education is very weak).

      6. Effective systematization requires the centralization of effort, which at present is highly decentralized, with every teacher acting very largely as an autonomous agent in his or her own classroom.

      7. The centralization of effort requires the recognition of common objectives, otherwise a tool developed in order to attain one objective will not be appropriate to a context in which people are pursuing other objectives.

      8. Unfortunately, this attempt at centralization & systematization is not being made, largely because teachers have reacted to previous, simplistic attempts to systematize their job by asserting that it cannot be done at all. Teachers repeatedly argue that because we have done things badly in the past, there is no point in trying to do those things well. Part of that reaction has been to assert that the true aims of education are either too numerous or too mysterious to be stated explicitly, and that that teachers need to negotiate different aims with different students.

      9. The chief interventions required from government to support the use of digital technology to support more systematic processes in education are (i) addressing the anti-competitive influences on the market; (ii) finding ways to describe educational objectives more clearly (whether or not such educational objectives are in fact determined by central government, or by more decentralized methods, such as schools making different offers within an admissions market).

      10. The introduction of such systematic and explicit means of managing education will not erode the importance of the human teacher, but will support them, enable them to perform their job more effectively, as advanced medical technology supports the professionalism of the doctor, to increase their productivity, their status and their job-satisfaction.

      How’s that?


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