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A couple of weeks ago I popped along to FOTE: the Future of Technology in Education conference.
The first speaker, Cailean Hargrave from IBM, spoke a lot about the "business of education." This was interesting for some. It made me uneasy. For me, the big problems are around the "experience of education."
The second speaker, Yousuf Khan, spoke my language. His opening line: "Technology in education is about creating a better experience." Yousef deploys iPads at Hult International Business School. Apparently a few hundred iPads can save $350,000 in printing costs.
Then came the panel on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course). Some concerns were raised about how MOOCs miss the social dimension of learning. The idea of a freemium MOOC model popped up. Take the course for free, pay for certificate. Certificates and accreditations became a hot topic among the audience. Neil Stapleton from the audience bellowed out "I'm more than the sum of my certificates" and that shut us all up.
Then we had lunch.
Not one person mentioned the word "fun" all morning. This made me sad. I thought about how my 6-year-old daughter only cares about fun, and she spends most of her days in education. Then, bam! Nicola Whitton comes on and talks about game design in education. Fun was mentioned at least twice. I was happy again.
Dave Coplin was up next. He was full of beans and very entertaining. He spoke of discovery and serendipity and lots of other cool things. Including how his 6-year-old first searched the web using Bing!
I had some wine, ate some olives, chatted with the lovely Gerlinde and Maria from Ko-Su, a mobile learning app. They also organise the monthly Mobile Learning meetup too. I missed the one last night. Will try to join the one in November.
I used the gaps between the talks to conduct some research using my little questionnaires (see pic above).
1. Technology adoption is the biggest problem facing educators. More specifically, "our own academics resist using it [technology]", says Nicola Scull, Head of Learning Technology at ifs School of Finance. This was the common message. Uwe Matthias Richter, Principal Lecturer in Technology-Enhanced Learning at Anglia Ruskin University offered more insight. "The problem is getting academics to use new tech and making it all straightforward. It's hard when you've learned to teach in a particular way."
2. In ten years the classroom will be "device-agnostic" says Laura Knight, Director of eLearning at Berkhamsted School. Laura added: "Kids will bring their own devices. We'll provide the space, the cloud, but their will be flexible classrooms."
Worth keeping in mind if you make educational tools and content.