On the 19th and 20th January 2017, I chaired a conference titled ‘The State of Digital Education’, to coincide with the launch of Malta’s Presidency of the EU Council.
The idea for a conference on ‘digital education’ had been in gestation for nearly two years. It was linked to a perennial belief that small states like Malta can be positioned as ‘labs’ for the testing of new ideas and concepts. In this case, I wanted to lever on a global network of educators and activists and the high-profile opportunity of the Presidency to explore ideas on what works – and doesn’t work – when technology is deployed in the loose field we call ‘education’.
The conference engaged with six key interconnected themes underpinning 21st century education frameworks:
- Openness and Equity in Digital Education
- Systems for Accreditation & Quality Assurance of Online learning
- Best Practices in Policy Design for Digital Education
- Innovation and Digital Pedagogies
- Teachers, learners and digital education
- Future Trends in Digital Education
The Post-Conference Magazine includes links to videos and slides from global policy-makers, thought-leaders, education practitioners and activists from organisations including MIT Media Lab, Creative Commons, UNESCO, Open Society Foundations, Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, Learning Machine and the Commonwealth of Learning. There is much material here that charts new, pragmatic directions for digital education in Europe. It also includes the conference conclusions – teasingly presented as ten lessons – which provide a useful snapshot of the many challenges ahead if Europe is to start to engage with technology in education as praxis and the norm in the lifelong learning journey of citizens.
The ultimate litmus test of a conference is what happens once delegates have left – from the relationships developed between people through the wealth of networks, to the value of the material left for public good to future projects and a renewed sense of purpose. My concluding remarks are here.