As a suitably qualified ‘disruptive educationalist’ I was lucky enough during the week to attend part of the Learning Without Frontiers conference in London. It’s a long time since I’ve felt amongst a group of people that think the same way, and ages since I’ve attended a conference with such a high quality parade of speakers one after another! (Indeed maybe never before!).
Speakers from David McCandless (author of Information is Beautiful) to Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia, served to remind us that digital mobile learning will continue to invade the classroom, no matter what the current Government manages to come up with next.
Two particular speakers emerged as being perhaps the most memorable. The first was Katharine Birbalsingh, the deputy head who lost her job earlier in the year for criticising ‘trendy teaching’ at a Conservative Party conference last year.
While the content of her speech sounded like something straight out of the pages of the Daily Mail, her presentation skills were simply awesome. Speaking for 20 minutes without a script or PowerPoint slides, she swirled effortlessly round the circular podium addressing all sides of the auditorium as if she’d been born there. It’s been suggested she stands for Parliament, an idea she has apparently rejected – maybe she is thinking of running against Sarah Palin in the next US Presidential campaign? It’s just a pity that she just doesn’t get the idea that an academic education and future is not for everyone, and that academic ability is not in itself directly related to wealth or race.
Meanwhile the other ‘Wow!’ moment came at the start of the presentation by Genevieve Shore, CIO & Director of Digital Strategy of Pearson. Here’s as clever a piece of video copywriting as you’ll ever come across:
If Pearson have the imagination and budget to commission something this good, my prediction is that within five years, or indeed probably even sooner, they will have become the Microsoft of global education, perhaps with a little help from the Games industry, and of course some sort of personal mobile tablet device. Of course, how good the content will prove to be is another question. Let’s hope they get educationalists to produce it rather than programmers or new media start-ups.
Finally, in contrast, I was also unlucky enough to spend a day at BETT last week. How it has changed over the years. Gone are (nearly) all the interesting people one used to bump into or arrange to catch up with. Gone are the pioneers, and the insight one gained into the latest developments in educational technologies. Instead it’s all about management solutions for network managers, who don’t seem to be particularly bothered that there’s still virtually no quality content to place in their virtual environments. The less said about BETT, the better…