M25-LTG Autumn 2019 Education 4 0


In November 2019 nearly 60 people attended the Autumn meeting of the M25 Learning Technology Group (#M25LTG) at King’s College London. This event was themed around ‘Education 4.0’ and brought together sessions on education surviving industrial revolutions, what Education 4.0 could look like, holographic lecturers and the ‘cold indifference’ of technology.

The event got underway with an opportunity for participants to experience Jisc’s Natalie 4.0, an immersive learning and teaching experience using Oculus Go to put you into the shoes of a student ten years in the future.

Enter into the 4th Industrial Revolution

Ruth Drysdale (Senior co-design manager at Jisc) started the event with a session entitled “Enter into the 4th Industrial Revolution”. We were provided with an overview of the advent of industry 4.0 and how it will impact the provision of education. Ruth discussed how education institutions need to create rounded, creative individuals who have the transferable skills needed to adapt as the world of work, driven by industry 4.0, evolves.

We learned that the broad themes of Education 4.0 cover the transformation of teaching, creating an adaptive model of personalised learning, re-imagining assessment and creating intelligent digital and physical estates. We also saw how the Jisc Digital Experiences Insights report highlights the divide between skills needed for the workplace and these skills being provided to students as part of their course. For example, 69% of HE learners & 50% FE learners recognise that digital skills are important in their future career, but only 41%feel that their course is preparing them for the digital workplace.

Ruth concluded by sharing theJisc Digital Capabilities Framework and the resources Jisc offer in supporting institutions to equip their staff and students to thrive in a digital world.

Creating Education 4.0

For our second session we welcomed Professor Gilly Salmon (Academic Director, Online Education Services) and John Brindle (Learning Technologist, University of Liverpool), who guided us through an hour-long workshop for Learning Technologists on “Creating Education 4.0”. In this workshop, we were asked to step through a portal from Education 3.0 to Education 4.0 (sparkly lights provided!) and share what thoughts and emotions came with stepping into the 4.0 world.

Following this we divided into groups and, using de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats, discussed how we would reshape the curriculum/mode of learning to enable students to make their best contribution to and benefit from the 4.0 world. 

  • Our positive yellow hats brought ideas of learners creating/co-creating their own educational experiences; personalisation, accessibility and inclusivity improvements; flexibility of delivery and a truly international learning experience. 
  • Our cautious black hats noted concerns around losing communities of learners; technology replacing people; lack of human interaction; parity of student/staff digital skills and the issues of Machine Learning for student assessments.
  • Red hats discussions brought feelings of excitement; concern; caution and confidence, all wrapped in the potential of opportunity and lack of certainty as to what the future brings.
  •  And, the creativity of our green hats saw opportunities for using AI, VR and holograms (foreshadowing!); the removal of assessments and students taking ownership of their content and data.

Following our interesting discussions, groups fed back on their conversations and creative ideas for implementation (blue hat) of Education 4.0 ideas for a preferred and viable future and added their discussions/images onto Padlet.

The Holographic Academic

After a short break and more opportunities to engage with Natalie 4.0, Dom Pates (Senior Educational Technologist from City, University of London) took to the stage to discuss “The Holographic Academic” and the potential of holography in higher education.

Dom took us through a brief history of holograms from Kate Moss’s 2006 appearance at the Paris Fashion show to Indian Prime Minister Modi simultaneously addressing voters at campaign events in 2014. We then looked at the example of the “world’s first holographic event at a university” when Imperial College Business School ran a Women in Tech event which provided a live panel discussion with two speakers on stage in London sat alongside two hologram speakers live from New York.

Following the introduction to holography, the second part of the session enabled us to discuss “speculative (learning) design” and consider what challenges/benefits holographic projection could bring for an institution based on a series of different “what if…” prompts e.g.

  • What if your institution had perfected a technique for creating interactive holographic likenesses for long-dead experts in a range of academic fields?
  • What if your colleague was asked to deliver a lecture holographically with 10mins notice?
  • What if the union had voted for strike action to protest the imposition of 30% cuts in academic staff in favour of holographic delivery methods?

After discussing our challenges and benefits we took to producing artefacts (a prototype, sketch, video, poster, email, tweet etc) which could support the introduction of holography.

All watched over by machines of cold indifference

Concluding the afternoon, we welcomed Chris Fryer (Senior Systems Administrator at the London School of Economics and Political Science) who provided a different lens on Education 4.0 and gave us a cautionary insight into what we can learn from a history of automation and mechanisation. Chris has blogged about his talk in the LSE Learning Technology and Innovation Blog

Chris highlighted a history of the textile industry and the Jacquard Loom concentrating the profits of the industry in their capitalist owners pockets and discussed a more modern example, explaining the Machine Learning services individuals can rent from Amazon and how it can be used to identify customer churn.

When looking into Learning Technology, Chris highlighted that Machine Learning is being deployed using VLE data points to predict student pass/fail rates and course retention levels. If costs become associated with these Machine Learning metrics they could, if not carefully understood, replace the expertise we have in our institutions. This presentation provided a thought-provoking end to an interesting afternoon and we thank all our presenters and participants for their enthusiasm and engagement.

Our next meeting will take place in Spring 2020 at BPP. Further information, including the event theme, will be circulated via the M25 Jiscmail list closer to the time.

Sue Harrison, Senior Learning Technologist, King’s College London

If you enjoyed reading this article we invite you to join the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) as an individual member, and to encourage your own organisation to join ALT as an organisational or sponsoring member.

M25-LTG Autumn 2019 Education 4 0