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Learnings and Reflections from the Education World Forum 2013

Michael Stevenson, VP Global Education addressing delegates at EWF 2013

Michael Stevenson, VP Global Education addressing delegates at EWF 2013

About a week ago, I posted a blog sharing my expectations on the Education World Forum 2013, as well as key details on Cisco’s participation as Platinum sponsor of this event. After what was a very interesting gathering, I think it is time to share with you some of the learnings and outcomes I took from the meeting.

This year, I was particularly struck by the vast predominance of attendees coming from Africa, the Near East, as well as other emerging regions of the globe. One of the reasons behind this pattern could be that many of these countries are starting to adopt a more visible position in the education debate (as it is the case for Brazil, now a major player in the global education dialogue and a major Cisco role via GELP) or that regional economic progress (with Africa housing 7 of the fastest growing economies in the world) is paving the way to more active engagement. Another reason could be that the Forum’s intention was rather to reflect more on how to improve access to achieve education for all and less so on leveraging lessons from more mature countries.

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ATC21S at Education World Forum 2013 – Key reflections

ATC21s Workshop at EWF 2013

ATC21s Workshop at EWF 2013

“Are assessments the Holy Grail in education or are they the Alchemist’s Stone?” This was the sentence used by Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General, OECD to kick-off the workshop on the Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills (ATC21S™) last week at the Education World Forum in London.

The workshop was a be a very insightful and dynamic session superbly led by Andreas, and considerably sparked by the active participation of five distinguished panellists as well as several EWF delegates who engaged in a very thought provoking debate about the importance of 21st Century skills, and the role assessments have in helping us understand their real magnitude.

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Realize the Promise of BYOD with the Next Generation Education Workspace

Can 1 +1 really = 3 (or more)?  Consider the opportunity presented by the thoughtful convergence of BYOD and virtual desktop technologies.

BYOD is one of the most important trends in education technology today. However, many BYOD initiatives are limited to providing personal devices with basic network connectivity via the campus Wi-Fi network. Traditional virtual desktops (VDI) are not new in education. Historically, VDI has allowed the delivery of non-persistent desktops, primarily to thin clients.

Through the Cisco Unified Workspace for Education, schools, colleges and universities can now provide next generation education workspaces that are virtual, social, mobile and collaborative. The Cisco Unified Workspace for Education integrates the Cisco BYOD and Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI) Smart Solutions to provide students, faculty, and staff with the flexibility of using any device to access any information, any application, and any expertise—from anywhere.

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Education 3.0 transformation workshop at BETT, London, January 31st 2013

panelBETT is the largest education event in the world, attracting some 40,000 government ministers and officials, education leaders, teachers and IT managers from around the world.  This year Cisco sponsored two sessions – one on flipped classrooms and the other on education transformation, and on which I was a panel member and chaired by my colleague Hania Baramki. Dr Najla from the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), Chris Hummerstone, a UK head teacher at  the Arnewood School, and Anne Gilleran, pedagogical lead for European SchoolNet’s eTwinning programme each spoke to transformation from a country perspective, an individual school perspective, and from the viewpoint of a pan-European context. I drew the common themes together after the three presentations and emphasised what was important. All spoke about the importance of starting with a vision, but a vision alone is not enough; it is crucial to envision what this vision would look like in practice, so that you  know when that vision is on the way to being realised.

It is also clear the value of prior knowledge about what has worked, where significant challenges exist , and how to develop an effective decision making process, are crucial in the process. This prior knowledge come from academic research and anecdotal evidence, which need to be made readily available in formats that are well documented and accessible to everyone from education leaders, school principals, teacher and parents, and involve learners. Informal discussions are also of significant value either in person or through online communities.

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A Six-Part Series: Transforming Higher Education in the US

This six-part series will focus on transformation of the traditional higher education system in the United States.  While a topic that causes some anxiety for higher education leaders, there is no choice but to change.  The question is how colleges and universities across the country will go about that change and the role that technology can play in facilitation and accelerating transformation.  This series will focus on:

  1. AM73672The Need for Change
  2. Challenges in Changing the System
  3. Systematic Change and Navigating Culture
  4. Modernizing Teaching and Learning
  5. Scaling Best Practices
  6. Recommendations

Part 1 – The Need for Change
Across the nation, colleges and universities are being challenged to transform their systems of higher learning.  While each institution is different, all share common problems: They must contend with outdated teaching methods, crushing budget pressures, and the need to deliver a relevant education that adequately and effectively prepares the workforce of the future.  As a result, educators are being faced with the need to make significant revisions to less-than-optimal systems, in an environment that is dictating that change needs to be made. Institutions that adapt to these imperatives will thrive, while those that are incapable of change will meet their demise.

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