Towards the end of 2016, Cambridge English Language Assessment held the ‘Access to English for Refugees and Asylum Seekers’ conference with Techfugees – a social enterprise mobilising the international tech community to respond to the refugee crisis. We spoke to Anna Lloyd, Head of Education Technology at Cambridge English Language Assessment and member of the Techfugees Cambridge chapter, about how the partnership came about and what solutions have come out if it so far …
It’s pretty widely accepted that the concept of learning styles is unsubstantiated. There is a distinct lack of evidence to suggest that catering specifically for audio-linguistic learners, or kinaesthetic learners, or whatever the others are, has any actual benefit. As far as cold hard evidence goes, it just doesn’t stack up, which is a worry to the small nation of educational consultants and publishing companies that have forged a lucrative career advocating learning-style oriented teaching strategies.
All’s not lost, however, as a brand spanking new set of learning styles has been identified by educational researchers at the London Institute of Education Studies, and there is more than enough debate surrounding them to power the next decade of educational keynote speeches.
We spoke to Nick Saville, Director of Research and Thought Leadership at Cambridge English Language Assessment, about the current state of language learning and assessment and what he thinks the future might hold. Nick discusses the shortcomings of the language classroom, and why we might be moving towards the end of the exam as we know it.
How many of your customers would be very disappointed if one of your products ceased to exist tomorrow? How many would register it only momentarily before replacing it with something that, as far as they’re concerned, is more or less interchangeable? My guess would be that (in the majority of cases) they would be only marginally inconvenienced, and this is something of an inconvenient truth in ELT publishing. Right now, we’re witnessing Product/Market Fill, when what we should be aiming for is Product/Market Fit. What does that mean, and what can publishers do about it?
Few words have been so prevalent in ELT as ‘EdTech’ and it has not been unusual to attend conferences where perhaps more than half of the talks on the schedule made at least some reference to the impending digital disruption sweeping into our sector and how best to prepare for it, avoid it or pretend it didn’t exist. Pearson’s Brian Engquist gives us his take on how to proceed.
The acronym MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, seems to be popping up in conversations with ELT publishers all over the place right now; and that’s odd, because up until about 2013, I’d never heard a publisher mention it. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, an MVP is a tactic used in product development to gauge customer interest in a new product or product feature. The idea is that you don’t build the whole thing; you just build enough to see whether people might be interested in what you’re proposing. What many people seem to actually be doing with their MVP is applying the Pareto Principle. Otherwise known as the 80–20 rule