How a device for every child will change the culture of learning and teaching

Opening doors

“I was about eight years old, and I had finally plucked up the courage to ask the music teacher if I could learn to play the piano. I’d been thinking about it for so long and worried I’d not get the chance. She was really enthusiastic, and that got me excited until she asked the fatal question. ‘Do you have a piano at home?’. I shook my head. And that was it – conversation over.” For Michael Conlon, educa-

tion transformation consultant at XMA, it was a lesson that fuelled a lifelong passion for equity that has run through his 28-year career as a technology educator and leader in schools, local authorities, and Education Scotland. “I was just a wee boy, desperate

to stretch that creative muscle, and the door was closed for me. It left quite a deep impression because I’m still talking about it all these years later. So technology for me has always been about its potential to open doors for young people, whether it is for music or physics or art or writing, whatever that ‘thing’ is for you, and that every child should have access to it wherever and whenever they are ready.” Conlon joined XMA at the start

of 2020 at an exciting time for the company. As a sole supplier on multiple Scottish Procurement frameworks and already helping drive 1:1 projects across Scotland and the UK, including Glasgow’s 1:1 Connected Learning project, XMA had rapidly gained experi- ence in helping local authorities and schools nurture their vision

for learning in the fourth industrial revolution. As Dennis Fox, director with

XMA for Scotland and Northern Ireland attests, “Even before the pandemic, the direction of travel for education has been moving towards 1:1, not just here but across the world. It simply accelerated the need. “We know that digital skills will

play such an important part in helping young people secure their future, and so our job is to help local authorities and schools plot a path to making their strategy and vision a reality. Tat involves co- authoring solutions for infrastruc- ture, device management, deploy- ment and training that combines our mutual passion and change for education.”

Established in the 1980s, XMA has grown to become one of the UK’s top ten largest value-added resell- ers. Today, it is an award-winning, independent, UK-wide company, serving a diverse customer base across the public and private sector. In the education sector, it has

built a team with strong sector knowledge and experience. ”When you add the kinds of perspec- tive and domain knowledge that people like Michael have with the solutions knowledge that we have in the business, you bring together the added value and outcomes focus that XMA is renowned for,” says Fox. ”It means our conversations with customers go deeper, our solu-


tions are more tailored and that we maintain our focus on those desired outcomes rather than technology”. Te pandemic and subsequent

lockdown exposed a digital equity gap for many young people and families, locked out of the opportu- nity to connect with their teachers and peers in a meaningful way. Te discovery that many of their young people lacked a suitable

device and access to data, with families sharing technology for work and home learning laid bare the reality of a situation that could not be ignored. XMA worked in conjunction

with the Scottish Government and local authorities to secure devices to remedy the situation, but that has only been the beginning of a shift in thinking about the role of

Michael Conlon of XMA believes digital tools can enhance pedagogical approaches

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