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Future of technology in education conference
by Tim Bush

The Future of Technology in Education (FOTE) Conference, organised by the University of London Computer Centre (ULCC), was held at the Royal Geographical Society on the 2nd October 2009. With representation from both the IT industry and the academic sector, FOTE09 brought together a diverse mix of speakers to share their thoughts and experiences around the 2 core themes for the day. The event was also streamed into Second Life by the virtual worlds specialists Virtually Linked

The key take away messages were centred around embracing the dramatic changes occurring as a result of the internet and the impact of us now living, studying and working in an ultra-networked world. This related to both the cloud computing and social media agendas. More specifically, though, there is currently a dichotomy between what learners expect and what academic institutions are typically delivering with regard to both technology and how and where teaching and learning is delivered. 

The key points from the diverse mix of presentations from the day are concisely expressed by a FOTE 09 delegate, Helen Hodges on the 'RSC Wales Teaching and Learning Blog': 

  • Embrace the cloud because it solves a problem you actually have, not just because it is cool (Dr Paul Miller, Cloud of Data)
  • We used to be navigators finding our way along planned routes through the wealth of information available to us … now we are explorers finding our own way (Ray Fleming, Microsoft)
  • Teachers and learners expect to be able to ‘plug and teach’ or ‘plug and learn’ i.e. they don’t want to have to know how all of the behind the scenes stuff works, they just want it to happen (Dr Bill Ashraf, University of Sussex)
  • Leeds Metropolitain University love Google Apps and have learnt that you need to get in there and just do it because if you don’t the students will and the universities (organisations) will just be following. (Robert Moores)
  • The world feels like it is spinning faster and faster  … technology has made the world more connected than ever before … the internet is changing everything … we need to change too (Will McInnes, Nixon/McInnes)
  • Students and teachers need to understand the potential of technology to get the most out of it (James Clay, Gloucestershire College)
  • Things to do with regard to living (and educating) in a networked world: think globally not institutionally; the default for information needs to be ‘open’ not ‘closed’ so that people can always find what they are looking for; anything can be copied so don’t worry about it… and our role in all of this is as a ‘trusted guide’ (Nick Skelton, University of Bristol)
  • Universities have lots of good ’stuff’ that students (and others) don’t know is there … Oxford University have used iTunes U to help them with this (Peter Robinson, Oxford University).
  • Digital identity is not just about what you put on the web about yourself, its about what others put on there about you too (Shirley Williams, University of Reading)
  • We have to all accept that learning does not just happen in institutions … that degree certificates are probably not the best way of representing a person and their abilities to an employer … that if universities don’t give people what they want, how they want it then learning will still happen outside universities… it did before they existed, after all (Dougald Hine, School of Everything)

Videos of the presentations from the day are available from the conference website,, and a more detailed overview of the keynotes and panels will be available for the December edition of the ALT newsletter. 

If readers have any ideas for speakers or themes for FOTE 10 then we would love to hear them. Please send any ideas to or contact us via Twitter at

Tim Bush
University of London Computer Centre

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