Crispin Weston

Edtech consultant
Speaking at


Inventing the horseless carriage: why edtech hasn’t worked but is still our only hope

The performance of our education system is inconsistent, mediocre by international comparison, and fails to meet the expectations of many parents and employers. Teachers work in isolated and poorly supported environments, often subject to excessive workload and with little useful theory to underpin their practice. Popular theories of education, which emphasize teachers’ tacit knowledge and intuition and the infinite variability of educational requirements, only exacerbate their problems. Instead of telling teachers how to cope within a dysfunctional system, Crispin will argue that we should redesign the system. Our traditional “craft of the classroom” does not supply the expertise that is required for this task. We need to understand the role of data in education, how we can better express our educational objectives, how we can design educational processes that can be applied consistently at scale, and how we can build the technology to provide practical support to frontline teachers. Crispin will argue that the role of technology in education has been widely misunderstood and will explain what the government should do to initiate a process of useful technological innovation.


Crispin taught History, Philosophy and Computer Studies from 1990, while developing learning management software and becoming involved in various data standards projects. In 2007, he mounted a legal challenge to Becta’s learning services procurement, attracting widespread industry support through SALTIS, which he founded as a working group of BESA. He later worked for Becta as a data standards consultant and chaired BSI’s committee for edtech data standards. He now manages oXya UK, a commercial cloud services company, while continuing to blog at He believes that we have failed to exploit edtech, mainly because of our mistaken theories of education.

Twitter: @crispinweston


FE & Vocational

The digital transformation of education: opportunities, benefits and barriers

The difficulties facing the “Cinderella service” illustrate a more general dysfunction in the education services of most developed countries. Not only are we unable to deliver educational services consistently, but there is little consensus over what our objectives should be or how our effectiveness should be measured. Previous investments in ICT have had little or no positive impact. Crispin will analyse what went wrong, what we need to do differently, and why the intelligent application of digital technology remains the only plausible answer to the fundamental problem that we face in education today.