It’s Thursday and I’m in Berlin, where I’m to give one of the opening speeches at the Online Educa conference. The international event, now in its 17th interation, is the biggest conference on technology-supported learning and training in the world. The organizers asked me to come over and talk about how some of the themes explored in Sex, Bombs and Burgers might relate to education and learning.
Not being an expert on education, I’m going to limit my talk to laying the context in which learning is changing today. While I’m sure there are fascinating aspects to how war and even pornography affect education, the most poignant – I think – is food technology, given its role in paving the way for countries to become prosperous. Once a country has solidified its food supply, it can then concentrate on economic growth, jobs and ultimately education.
Food technology is contributing to the unprecedented period of poverty reduction that we’re currently in, where more than half a billion people have escaped the poorest conditions in the past five years alone. The United Nations expects further dramatic reductions in poverty over the next four years, which means the number of people in the world who want an education is going to swell dramatically.
There’s no way we’re going to be able to supply enough teachers to meet this demand, so entepreneurial learning – where people teach themselves – is going to become a reality for many individuals, both in the developed and developing worlds. Much of what will be discussed at Online Educa will focus on this; I have a few thoughts on where things might go that I’ll share, but otherwise I’m hoping to set the table for other speakers and panellists.
Later in the day, I’ll also be taking part in a debate that will seek to answer the following question:
This house expresses its concern about the effect developments in technology are increasingly having on personal liberty and believes this will have serious consequences for learning in the future.
I’ll be arguing in the “against” camp, which is good because I couldn’t imagine that statement being more incorrect. I’m not even really sure how it’s defensible. To my mind, technological developments of the past decade have enabled more liberty than at any other point in history, so I’m very curious what sort of arguments the “for” side will suggest.
I’ll post a report from the conference, as well as some overall thoughts from Berlin, next week. Until tomorrow, Auf Wiedersehen!