Sammy White is an educator with a passion for enhancing learning experiences. With a background as a teacher in schools and colleges, Sammy has now moved into the tech sector working with assistive technologies. Named number 3 Global Thought Leader and Influencer (Education) in 2024 and winner of a Tech Women 100 award in 2023, Sammy is widely recognised as an expert in EdTech. Sammy continues to be a driving force in the intersection of education and technology, inspiring students, teachers, and colleagues with her innovative approach and unwavering dedication to creating a more equitable learning environment.

Recently, in an exclusive interview with Higher Education Digest, Sammy shared her professional trajectory, insights on the eLearning trends to watch out for in 2024, personal role model, future plans, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.

Hi Sammy. Could you please tell our readers about your EdTech experience? Why did you choose exactly this industry?

My journey in EdTech began unexpectedly. After teaching mathematics in secondary schools, I took a new role at a local community college who were opening their first school. From here I accidentally fell into the brilliant world of community college teaching. Returning from maternity leave, I found the college had undergone a complete technological transformation. Suddenly, my familiar systems were gone, and I was now in the world of new EdTech.

This unexpected challenge sparked a passion. I embarked on a personal EdTech journey, determined to master these new tools and share my learnings with others. This led me to become an EdTech leader at the college.

Driven by this passion, I transitioned to become a self-employed consultant. Helping education providers develop and implement EdTech strategies, empowering them to leverage technology for better learning outcomes. Moving to working for large EdTech firms I transitioned into assistive technology. This is my true passion, technology that enables all to succeed.

Brief us about your role and responsibilities as Learning Evangelist at Glean.

At Glean, we want to empower all learners to effectively take notes and meaningfully engage with learning. I wear many hats, collaborating with product, marketing, and sales teams.  My focus is to ensure that Glean prioritises the science of learning at every step: both in its product design and culture.  I translate best practices into actionable strategies, guiding teams to design solutions that truly meet the needs of learners.

Why do you consider EdTech tools to be essential in the classroom? How do you think they make teachers’ lives easier and increase students’ access to learning?

There are enormous efficiencies in using technology in the classroom but we can also elevate traditional classroom activities. Checking on student progress is no longer limited to the few in front of the educator. This small scale experience can now be done on a large scale with polling software ensuring the progress of the many is captured. We can also use this data in a more meaningful way to reflect and adapt post class elevating what was a brief in-class moment previously to something of meaning and value beyond that single class.

We know that not everyone learns in the same way. Technology enables us to tailor learning experiences to each student’s needs. We can create personalised pathways, offering targeted interventions to best support students. Technology allows us to explore innovative and engaging formats that make learning truly meaningful.

Could you please predict the trends of eLearning for 2024?

Future gazing is never wise but I think we will continue hearing about AI for a while. What I think will happen is we will start to share how to get the most out of things with AI alongside traditional materials. We are already seeing book launches being accompanied by custom GPTs and I think we will see more of this. I would love to predict a year of more inclusive technology in learning but I am not convinced 2024 is the year.

What has been your most career-defining moment that you are proud of?

Returning from maternity leave, I found myself locked out of my usual systems. Faced with a new reality, I bought my own device and embarked on figuring this new technology out. What began as a way to navigate unfamiliar tech turned into a passion for EdTech and instructional design.  The overwhelmed new mum who once wrestled with login screens became the in-house expert on hardware, software, and eLearning. That moment changed my career path significantly.

How do you define success? What is your take on the ways to achieve long-term success?

Success, for me, is a tapestry woven from three threads: personal fulfillment at home, collaborative achievements with colleagues, and positive impact on the communities I serve. Maintaining this balance is the key to long-term success. While there’s no magic formula, striving to nurture each element consistently brings a sense of accomplishment.

Who is the one person you look up to and why?

I truly admire Anne-Marie Imafidon. Her dedication to inspiring girls and non-binary individuals to pursue STEM careers is a cause I deeply believe in. The Stemettes program she co-founded serves as a powerful example, and it aligns perfectly with my own passion for helping students thrive in their chosen fields.  This is why I actively volunteer my time – it’s incredibly rewarding to contribute to a movement that empowers the next generation of innovators.

What is your favorite non-academic book and why?

“Invisible Women” by Caroline Criado Perez is my go-to. It opened my eyes to how data bias creates a world that I (as a CIS female) experience differently to others. Now I fight for inclusive design in everything! “She’s in CTRL” by Anne-Marie Imafidon is a great accompanying or follow up read as well.

What is your biggest stress reliever?

While quality time with family is precious, sometimes that too can cause stress! My go-to stress reliever is definitely getting outside for a walk. Exploring new places, breathing fresh air, and seeing something unexpected always clears my head. Recently, visiting a living museum was perfect – it combined the calming curiosity of exploring with a fascinating learning experience. Days like these tick all the boxes: relaxation, discovery, and a thirst for knowledge quenched!

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

My long-held dream of completing a doctorate is always on the cards. I’m especially drawn to the idea of researching or developing a new assistive technology product. This would allow me to combine my love of learning with the potential to make a real difference in the sector. Whether this translates into a research role in academia or leading a new development within the assistive technology industry, I’m keen to see where the next 5 years takes me.

Do you have any advice for women working in the edtech space?

Finding your people (those who share your passions, challenge your ideas, and celebrate your wins) is crucial. For me, online networks and communities have been a game-changer. They’ve provided invaluable support, allowing me to share experiences, and learn from others. These connections have undeniably propelled me forward. The beauty is, these communities exist everywhere – local, regional, and online.  If you can’t find your niche, consider creating one! Building a space for others fosters a ripple effect of support, empowering the next generation of talent. Companies like ours at Glean happily offer space to host community meet ups, so you can build in person relationships too. After all, creating space at the table for everyone is the key to collective success.

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