Sunday 13 October 2013

Future of Technology in Education conference #fote13

Last Friday I attended the FoTE conference which was enjoyable and interesting. I attended in 2011 but didn't make it last year so was pleased to be able to shuffle work and travel and life to get there this time.
It is hosted by ULCC at Senate House, Uni of London. It's a beautiful building and has great memories for me as I used to spend hours in the library there in the 80s when I did my first degree at Kings College.

I like the event because it is for Learning Technologists and academics / teachers / educationalists who are involved and knowledgeable about learning technologies - it's not for the general overviewers but at the same time not cliquey. Also there is always a good back channel discussion via twitter.
The first speaker was Nicola Millard who is a futurologist. She was brilliant and engaging and talking about customers which is what I'm interested in. I do like an inspirational key note speaker to kick off an event, someone with an interesting take on the situation and with an appealing delivery. She talked about making things easy and effortless for customers and different sorts of effort such as cognitive effort. She mentioned email and that it would die out due to other channels being easier - not sure that I agree with that sweeping statement.....
A great point that she made was that you need 4 things in order to work - coffee, cake, connectivity and company. I agree entirely although would substitute tea for coffee. I think this idea is something library people should think about embracing - what sort of space is needed for you and for library users?
The next speaker was Alicia Wise from Elsevier who talked about Open Access. It was an interesting talk and quite difficult as the audience, I expect, are predominantly in favour of OA and see publishers as a barrier to it. But it was good to see them as part of the discussion.
The third speaker was Gwen Noteborn from Maastricht Uni talking about Webcasts in education: Mythbusters! It was ok and interesting but maybe covering old ground to some extent.
After the coffee break was the Fireside Chat with a real virtual fire in the background.
FOTE13 Fireside Speakers:
Yousuf Khan (Chair), Chief Information Officer, Hult International Business School
Adrian Ellison, Director of Information Technology, University of West London
Cathy Walsh, Principal and CEO, Barking & Dagenham College
Heidi Fraser-Krauss, Head of IT Services, University of York
Richard Maccabee, Head of ICT, University of London
There was some discussion around the idea that technology changes but working practices don't often change in order to develop along side. Again 'easiness' of using technology was mentioned - I agree in part, it has to accessible and available but I'm not sure it has to be simple - some of the appeal of technology is that it is challenging and complex - it can change the world, that is why it is enthralling.

After lunch Lindsay Jordan delivered a great presentation including a blue outfit and a piano. She talked about why people drop out of courses. Sustained learning needs motivation, organisation, self discipline - can we get these in an online environment? Possibly? She advocated face to face communication rather than email....again I would say it depends on the situation and the interaction.

Next presentation was by Martin King and was about diversity and connectivity - lots of interesting stuff.
Next presentation was from Kevin
Ashley from the Digital Curation Centre. He talked about the data deluge and the problem that we have is that the amount of data is outstripping the technology we have to store it.
After the coffee break, the final two presentations were about Moocs. Matt Yee-King and Marco Gillies talked about the Mooc that they created and delivered at Goldsmiths. It was a great insight into the practicalities of scaling up an online course and some of the issues and solutions they had encountered. This included changing deadlines which is easy for small cohorts but not for large numbers. Also the problems of negative comments on discussion forums - even if 1% make one comment, this can be large number of complaints.
The last presentation was by Diana Laurillard entitled The pedagogies for large-scale student guidance. The data from Moocs suggest that the majority of participants already have a degree or higher degree. This suggests that it is not for undergraduate study but for CPD. The drop out rates are high but registration is not the same as signing up. When scaling up the numbers involved in courses for Moocs, other factors have to be considered such as admin and support. Support costs are not going to go down but technology can innovate pedagogy. There needs to be investment in teacher innovation to make best use of resources and improve student outcomes.
All in all, it was a great day with lots of ideas to take away and reflect on. It's good to spend a day immersed in learning technology, listening and talking to people.

On the way back to the station I managed a very brief (10min) visit to the British Library - just time to stand and stare.

1 comment:

  1. Like you I fitted in a quick visit elsewhere afterwards. I popped into the National Gallery and had a look at some old masters - it was refreshing to see the level f trust the gallery has in displaying these paintings.

    I talked about Leonardo and it was a pleasure to see one of his paintings there.