A successful entrepreneur and philanthropist who is committed to providing educational opportunities for all received an honorary award from Edge Hill University today (19th July).

Tony Cann is passionate about enhancing teaching and learning through the use of technology, improving education, raising standards and helping change the lives of students.

His honorary award, given in recognition of his outstanding work that resonates closely with the work of Edge Hill University in the world of business and education, was conferred from the University’s Chancellor Professor Tanya Byron in a ceremony on the Ormskirk campus. Listen to his interview here.

Speaking after his ceremony, he said: “I am particularly grateful to receive this honour from this University because it recognises that to make real, substantial improvements in teaching, not just tinkering at the edges, we have to use a new pedagogy.”

Tony started his career in manufacturing and is involved in many companies in industry and distribution. It was in the mid-1990s when Tony chaired the local East Lancashire Training and Enterprise Council (ELTEC) that he realised how important education and training were and decided to help improve education for children.

He started a company, Promethean, that manufactured digital whiteboards and realised that these could increase productivity and learning in schools if teachers also had the right software. Promethean’s first interactive whiteboards were introduced in 1996 and production doubled every year for the first 10 years.  They are now used in nearly one million classrooms worldwide, influencing the lives of twice as many teachers and 50 million children. The more recent development of hand held devices to provide feedback enables teachers to adapt their teaching in real-time promises to increase the efficiency of learning in the classroom by as much as 30%.

Tony said: “Teachers have a very difficult job, and it is almost impossible for even the very best to develop the full potential of all those they teach. Technology in the classroom can provide this help by providing feedback in real-time and by providing teachers with superb resources. I am driven to make this happen.”

Offering advice to future entrepreneurs, he said: “If you believe in something you need to stick to it until it comes through. Don’t accept the norm.”

Born in London in 1939, his family moved to Lancashire at the start of the war and Tony has lived there ever since.  He obtained an Honours Degree in Chemistry at Manchester University.

His interests, in addition to wanting to help improve education, include efforts to reform the criminal justice system, a project to help Indians in the poor North East of India and also support of the Unitarian denomination of which he is a member.