Carrying the Fire Forward

After a quarter century, a veteran of the edtech space looks to the future.  

INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero

Vin Riera joined Promethean in January of 2017. Vin is an experienced global executive who is passionate about technology and education and a highly respected leader across multiple disciplines. He most recently served as Director and CEO of Collegis Education.

Prior to Collegis, Vin served as Director and CEO of Edmentum, a leader in software curriculum and assessment solutions. In addition, he has served in progressive leadership and general management roles at Gateway, Inc., Equant, Inc., now Orange Business Services, Verizon/MCI WorldCom, and GE Capital Commercial Direct.

‘To continue the momentum in the edtech market into 2022, we must address the digital divide highlighting the disparity between students with access to the internet or devices and those without.’

In addition to his broad software, computing, services, and education industry background, Vin has a proven track record of developing compelling and strategic plans that drive transformational growth and shareholder value. He understands that Promethean is a unique organization with a distinct culture, loyal customers, and a proud 20-year heritage. His overall experience and leadership skills will propel Promethean forward as we continue our mission to develop the transformative technologies, educational content, and dynamic experiences that motivate students to learn.

He is a graduate of Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts with a BS Degree in Business Administration. In this EdTech Digest interview, Vin shares trends, tradition, pandemic pivots, and the path ahead.

What edtech trends are you anticipating for 2022? Outside of COVID, what specific shifts in student behavior, teaching, and policy are driving these changes? 

To continue the momentum in the edtech market into 2022, we must address the digital divide highlighting the disparity between students with access to the internet or devices and those without. Nearly 30% of students currently lack this access. We expect there to be more investments from the federal government and private sector in 2022, whether it be in the form of internet connectivity or putting devices in the hands of students. Additionally, we will see a greater integration of devices in the classroom which will enable greater access to data and analytics. By integrating devices and software, educators will have a better understanding of a student’s needs, enabling a more personalized and effective learning experience. 

How will student engagement and student assessment continue to evolve as new technologies emerge? 

As new technologies emerge, collaboration between students and engagement among students will continue to increase. Devices and lesson planning software drive significant opportunities to create a more personalized and interactive teaching experience and introduce students to gamified learning components, which prompt students’ curiosity and grasp their attention. As software integration becomes more streamlined, educators will have a comprehensive view of a student’s progress improving teacher evaluations. For example, capturing data and analytics can create actionable approaches for educators to assess and teach the next generation of students.

What will be a priority for educators as they continue to navigate a post-pandemic classroom? 

Priorities have shifted since the pandemic’s disruption of education worldwide and has put student’s behavioral needs at the forefront. In the US, nearly 40% of schools identified social and emotional learning as a key priority for the 2021/22 school year. This paints a much different picture than how educators identified priorities in 2018/19, when about 64% of educators identified attainment and results as a key priority. It’s clear that remote and hybrid learning due to COVID-19 impacted the well-being of our students — and educators, along with school administrators, will need to pivot to navigate these impacts moving forward.

As Promethean approaches its 25-year anniversary, how has the edtech industry changed since the company’s inception and what’s next for the company?

It’s incredible to see how much the industry has changed since Promethean was founded almost 25 years ago. Early on, the hardware and software were pretty rudimentary. The goal was simply to make life a little easier for teachers and bring more technology into the learning process. Today, educators demand and deserve so much more. They want something that will not just ease the process, but revolutionize it. So we’ve really focused heavily on innovation, interactivity, and engagement. 

I have to say the pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the industry in that it showed how critical technology is to the learning process. Basically, technology is no longer a “nice-to-have,” it’s a “must-have.” A lot of our customers didn’t even know about all the remote and hybrid learning features contained in the ActivPanel. But once the pandemic hit and their kids started learning from home, they quickly discovered they had a far more powerful tool in their hands than they even knew. 

‘I have to say the pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the industry in that it showed how critical technology is to the learning process.’   

With the organization recently unveiling a new brand, how does this reflect the current transformation of education and technology?

Our goal with our new brand was to better reflect who we are as a company. For the last 25 years, our mission has always been to transform the way the world learns and collaborates. But we weren’t always conveying that message clearly. Now we hope to tell our story and project our identity in a more powerful way.

We went with a cleaner, more modern look and feel that speaks to our innovation and leadership in the space. Our revamped logo—the red flame—calls to mind the passion of our employees, our partners, and, most importantly, our customers.  

Our customers are really at the heart of everything we do. I mean, when I talk to some of the teachers who use our panels—who rely on them and see them as absolutely essential to what they do—I understand why it’s so important for us to keep on innovating and delivering the tools that these heroic people need every day.  

Victor Rivero is Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: [email protected]

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