Online Educa Berlin (OEB) is an annual global, cross-sector conference and exhibition on digital learning and training. It has been running since 1995 and always promises to be at the forefront when it comes to developments in the learning and teaching technology space. This year’s OEB 2023 conference centred around the theme The Learning Futures We Choose and delved into critical questions regarding the integration of digital solutions, the role of AI in education, and the future landscape of learning.
The Thursday opening plenary on Will our digital evolution enhance human potential or eclipse it? set the tone for the conference, emphasising the need for educators to adopt disruptive thinking to navigate the evolving digital landscape. CEO, Aspire Change EDU, Eric Sheninger gave a call for action stating that “your calling is to make a splash and shatter the status quo“. Founder and President of the Reboot Foundation Helen Lee Bouygues suggested we explore our cognitive biases, and Professor Luciano Floridi, Professor of Cognitive Science and Founding Director of the Digital Ethics Centre, Yale, gave an interesting talk using philosophy as a lens to explore education and semantic capital and identity. All three touched on the implications of generative AI on education and our new reliance on computers possibly leading to passivity.
On Friday the plenary covered The Big Reset: Adapting to a New Educational Landscape. We heard from Brent Anders, Director of Institutional Research and Analaysis, Center for Teaching and Learning, Lecturer, American University of Armenia, Armenia who has recently written a book on AI literacy. Brett covered the need for firstly awareness mentioning AI use in gaming, job recruitment, dating apps and governmental decision making. Then capability looking at prompt engineering and the difference between narrow AI (specialising in specific tasks), general AI (possesses human-like versatility) and super AI (which would surpass human capabilities across all domains).He discussed the need for guardrails and concerns of over reliance and loss of existing skills pointing out that Chat GTP now has 180.5 million, Bing 45 million and Bard 50 million users – these numbers are increasing incrementally. Margaret Korosec, Dean of Online and Digital Education, University of Leeds discussed their comprehensive digital strategy which has involved curriculum redesign for every single programme with a spotlight on users. Sian Bayne, Professor of Digital Education, University of Edinburgh, concluded the trio by discussing cyclical narratives of transformation, disruption and automation. Those working in the digital space have allowed ourselves to fall in to a cycle of reaction based on the narrative that education is broken. We need to move out of this cycle. Siam implored us to consider how technological change raises fundamental issues around what it means to be an educated human and how as educators we can tell better stories about the education futures we want. Using examples from educators like Jen Ross (Digital future for learning) she pointed out that we can have can have control over this future
No trend is destiny…Multiple alternative futures are possible
UNESCO Futures of Education