The first Learning and Technology World Forum kicked off this week in London, the successor to the invitation-only Moving Young Minds conference. In its new incarnation, LATWF featured both public and closed ministerial-level sessions examining topics related to ICT use in education.
The Forum's overarching theme was 'Next Generation Learning', divided into two streams on 'Leadership for the 21st Century, Skills for the 21st Century' and 'An Education Workforce for the 21st Century'. This was a large and ambitious event, and the quality of presenters and participants was quite high. The event web site provides a good overview of all public sessions, including presentations, videos and supporting materials.
One of the most interesting presentations was delivered by Andreas Schleicher, the Head of Indicators and Analysis Division at the OECD, who emphasised that "policymakers must fundamentally alter their approach towards skilling through education". A variety of new challenges highlight the fact that, in OECD markets, greater specialisation will enable individuals to remain competitive in the new global marketplace and that the education of routine cognitive task skill sets was facing a challenge from computerisation. He labelled this the 'dilemma of schools' -- that the skills that are easiest to teach and test are also the ones that are easiest to digitise, automate and outsource. His presentation is available for direct download (in PowerPoint).
In the corridors, and at a side event sponsored by Microsoft, there was much buzz about the ambitious national ICT in education initiative in Portugal. Under the 'Magellan' project, schools and pupils are being offered subsidized low-cost laptops, with an eventual goal of ensuring that every pupil has access to a personal computing device.
The biggest news to emerge from the event was the announcement that Cisco, Intel and Microsoft will underwrite a multi-sector research project to develop new assessment approaches, methods and technologies for measuring the success of 21st-century teaching and learning in classrooms around the world. Dr. Barry McGaw (ex-OECD, where he helped oversee PISA) will lead a group of 50 experts and innovators in academia and government to collaborate on research and assist in influencing the development of future international and national assessments. This will definitely be one to watch.
Please note: The image used at the top of this blog post was obtained via Wikimedia Commons; it is © Andrew Dunn and is used according to the terms of its Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 license.