We sat down with Howard Lewis, Managing Director Global Initiatives at Discovery Education, to discuss Edtech (education technology) and the future of online learning.
Describe what your company does in 256 characters
Discovery Education is a leading global edtech company. Our digital platform supports learning wherever it takes place, helping teachers to engage students and deliver equitable learning experiences. Inspired by the media company Discovery,Inc., our resources are accessed in over 140 countries.
How did you get involved in this industry?
I joined Discovery Education in 2019, after 5 years as a VP with Thomson Reuters where I developed their software business across EMEA. I’ve always been passionate about technology and in particular, edtech. The right digital content and tools can inspire every child to have their lightbulb moment.
What made you think of the idea/what inspired you to create your technology?
Discovery Education is dedicated to preparing learners for tomorrow by creating innovative classrooms connected to today’s world. Our daily learning platform achieves this, empowering educators with exciting, real-world digital resources and instructional support that inspire and engage students no matter where teaching and learning is taking place.
How is this going to benefit people/society?
Today’s students are tomorrow’s engineers, astronauts, and scientists. We need to equip them with the digital skills and knowledge they need to succeed in a world we can’t yet imagine. Our digital platform and resources are designed to do exactly this by not only providing students knowledge and information, but also opportunities to develop the important creative, communication, collaboration and critical thinking skills needed for future success.
What’s innovative about your company and technology?
At Discovery Education, we’re always looking ahead. Our resources and content are continually updated to help teachers keep on top of curriculum changes and connect pupils with world events. In addition, we are integrating into our services the latest technologies—such as AR, VR, Machine Learning and more to help better engage learners and save students time. Our commitment to innovation extends to our content. We are dedicated to providing fresh, timely content such as the Daily News Bulletin for schools, which we produce in partnership with ITN Productions. We’re the only edtech company to offer this.
How, in your opinion, has your industry changed in the past 5 years?
One of the biggest changes in edtech in recent years has been the surge in demand for immersive learning experiences. The UK is leading the way in developing immersive tech and attracting investment from overseas. There are lots of exciting new products in the pipeline. Watch this space!
What has COVID done to your company/industry? Has it been affected? Does your solution assist with the pandemic?
The impact of COVID-19 on the edtech industry cannot be overstated. Firstly, it accelerated the uptake of online learning, encouraging many schools to start using digital platforms and to experience first-hand their potential to keep children learning – and help them stay connected to their peers.
Secondly, the pandemic shined a light on the urgent need for more equitable learning and for every child to have access to tools and resources that ensure their learning continues, no matter where the learning is taking place.
Describe the future of your industry. What does the future hold? What is society going to look like?
Looking ahead, I think the enthusiasm we’ve seen for edtech will only grow. Delivering blended learning opportunities has become a top priority for schools and having the right hardware and digital content for student use is a big part of this. Teachers will want to ensure that their students can continue to learn wherever they are and this will spark a shift towards more personalised learning, which Discovery Education is well positioned to facilitate.
What plans do you have coming up?
In my experience, the biggest edtech innovations happen in the classroom, when teachers use our resources to inspire their students. We’re working very closely with our educator community to see how we can make those light bulb moments occur even more often and be more powerful, and are developing exciting new resources and products to make that happen.
What would your advice be for people trying to get into your industry?
First and foremost, you need to have a passion for leveraging edtech to improve student outcomes. Get as much experience in the sector as you can. Talk to educators, talk to students, be an active listener and find out what they think and what they want from their edtech tools. And while I didn’t take this route, some of the best innovators in the edtech space I know were originally teachers who still stay close to other educators in the field. I can’t think of a better place to start than by talking to people in the classroom, because that is where the magic happens!
Howard Lewis is an accomplished business leader with a deep understanding of the United Kingdom’s marketplace, and is the Managing Director, Global Initiatives of Discovery Education UK. Howard joined Discovery Education from Thomson Reuters, a global information, news and technology business where he was a member of an executive leadership team responsible for the go-to-market strategy for that company’s European enterprise. Prior to Thomson Reuters, Howard held various general management and leadership positions at Experian, including holding the position of Managing Director for Irish business. During his time at Experian, Howard was responsible for multiple business units, served both the B2B and B2C markets across the public and private sectors, and was involved in identifying and integrating a number of the company’s key acquisitions. Howard earned his BA (Honors) in Business and Marketing from Southampton University and lives in Berkshire, UK, with his wife and 4 children.