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Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester | United Kingdom | www.education.manchester.ac.uk

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Higher Education Institution.

What are the key trends you believe have the power to transform the way we learn?

Unfortunately, at the moment, while I see key trends I think their transformational power is negative. There is ample evidence of how the public sphere can be, relatively easily, manipulated through the use of computing power allied to the will to promulgate untruths. Despite plenty of warnings about this over the last decade or so we have been too complacent, and now certain interests who are exactly those who benefit from these manipulations are in positions of political, economic and cultural power -- and will do their best to see that professional educators (who, largely, they despise) will find it harder and harder to develop in learners the necessary skills and awareness to engage in critical enquiry into claims made in the public sphere. The battle will be a fierce one, and right now we are very much on the back foot.  

The theme of EdTechXEurope 2018 is ‘Eternally Learning’. What does eternal learning mean to you?

The easy answer is, lifelong learning -- but we should not equate this with meaning that we somehow need to be 'locked in' to formal, regulated learning environments for the rest of our lives. The trick, for learners and society alike, is to stimulate and capture those informal learning processes that are what really motivate us, and to create a digital environment which is genuinely open to exploration and reconfiguration (as opposed to being carved up into 'filter bubbles' and structured largely by closed and non-participatory interests). 

What should the rest of the world learn about EdTech in your country?

By necessity the UK is needing to look at how higher education asserts its public value. How we use EdTech in the most effective ways and how we can prepare our graduates to be technologically-adept employees, active citizens and members of communities is a key element of this enquiry, one that is starting to be addressed in interesting ways in the UK EdTech research community and, albeit more slowly, in higher education institutions themselves. 

Why is it important for all players in the EdTech ecosystem to continuously connect, network and learn from each other?

The answer is in the question -- it's an ecosystem, full of internal co-dependencies, information and communication flows, that dynamically evolves, continuously. Tight boundaries around roles, departments, institutions, and the like lead to reinventions of wheels, over-costly solutions, and a lack of ownership of them from those who actually need to use the new tools. 

How does your current role allow you to make a difference to education and learning space?

As anyone who works in higher education institutions knows, these are not easy places in which to engage in any large-scale transformations, whatever one's role. However, I do feel that the research that we are doing at Manchester into how digital and information literacy skills can be developed in ways that the learners can take out of their studies, and into professional and personal life, is potentially significant not only at my institution but elsewhere. 

Who would you like to meet at the event?

Doubtless there will be many technology providers there but what I am most interested in is talking to anyone who can help with implementation and the changing of 'hearts and minds', whether at the level of the individual academic, or institutional strategies such as promotion and reward. How can we encourage more agile and responsive innovation related to teaching, learning and employability in our universities?

When you think about joining London EdTech Week and EdTechXEurope Summit this year, what are you looking forward to?

I hope there will be engagement with the issues I've mentioned. The many opportunities and possibilities opened up by EdTech innovation are fascinating, but to use them in effective ways they need integrating with an understanding of society, particularly the politics and economics of education. 

Join Andrew and our 100+ thought leader speakers at EdTechXEurope 2018 on 19 June 2018 - reserve your place now >>