On Friday 11th October, three members of the team attended the annual Future of Technology in Education (FOTE) conference, hosted as always by the University of London Computer Centre.
This is a consistently excellent event, with a wide range of 8 speakers which everyone watches and plenty of networking time with relevant suppliers to speak to (and good catering).
This year the main themes for me were:
(1) Make things easy for your students.
Nicola Millard (BT) made some excellent points about what students perceived as value for money, and if something is difficult then they don’t see the value for money. Never assume you know what your students want, listen, and encourage engagement at all levels.
(2) Think about spaces.
How does the fact that our devices (laptops, smartphones and tables) are untethered change the way we work and collaborate? The value of face to face is about being part of an event (“eventedness“). Social (time “off task”) is enabled well in physical spaces, but much harder to achieve online (Lindsay Jordan). Collaboration is best achieved by providing spaces near food and drink or water cooler moments which we are losing. Uninterrupted work time can happen somewhere else, the word of the day was “coffice” – the increasing practice of working in a coffee shop.
(3) MOOCs are for Graduates.
There were several talks that featured MOOCs and both highlighted the fact that the majority of MOOC participants already have at least one degree (over 70%), and often postgraduate qualifications as well. We are not widening participation. Typically only 2% of those who sign up for a MOOC complete it, but we might want to review what we mean by “drop out” as allowing people just to complete the aprts they are interested in also has value. Diana Laurillard’s final point was that to make large scale online teaching work we need to invest in teacher innovation and giving them the tools to innovate and share their innovations.
Twitter is always very active during FOTE. Here is my ‘Storify’ of the event to give you a flavour of the twitter stream in chronological order. The talks will also be available online on the FOTE website.