Future of Technology in Education, Imperial College, London

I’m at Future of Technology in Education, Imperial College, London. It should be an interesting day the line up of talks certainly looks like it’s going to be informative and thought provoking. Here’s some of my notes, they’re very rough…

Ian Forrester, BBC Backstage – Why portability matters

Ian started off by telling us about a book that he’s been reading called ‘The Future of the Internet and how to stop it’ a scary book, discussing a dark and controlling future of the web – I must read this!

Ian talked about data portability and the importance of web users being able to control their profiles and data. Controlling our identity online is very difficult and a subject not to be approached lightly!

The Bill of Rights for social web users – asserts that a user has rights online:
“We publicly assert that all users of the social web are entitled to certain fundamental rights, specifically:
Ownership of their own personal information, including:
* Their own profile data
* The list of people they are connected to
* The activity stream of content they create;
Control of whether and how such personal information is shared with others; and Freedom to grant persistent access to their personal information to trusted external sites.”

For more see: http://opensocialweb.org/2007/09/05/bill-of-rights/

He warned of us of casual phishing that goes on from within innocent looking social websites, for example many sites ask you if you want to import your friends, which is a ruse to get hold of your friends data and use it for their own means, usually advertising & spam.
Identity is difficult, it’s a complicated area – OpenID is one way to control your identity online – see http://openid.net

Ian talked about sites that collect and shares your data e.g. Yammer for microblogging and Basecamp for project management, all these sites and services have potential security issues. Basecamp allows you to export your data when you’ve finished with it, but what happens when you shut down your account – where does this data go? Does it get wiped or does it get stored somewhere and who has access to it? Another issue with relying on this kind of server is downtime – for example if your data is stored on a US service and they do their maintenance when they’re asleep it’s fine for them, but in the UK we’re awake and wanting access!

So who owns what? We should all be using sites that allow distribution to our content via Creative Commons licence – it’s a flexible way to control the rights and freedoms to use your work – if you’re using a site that doesn’t use CC – you shouldn’t use it!

ULAs – user licence agreements – Ian asked who reads these, I don’t think many people put their hands up! He talked about the new Google Chrome ULA and how in the first instance it was said how it owned all your content, but they soon changed it when there was an outcry. He added that Chrome is open source and does have its good points.
You should be able to delete your data – Facebook wouldn’t let you do this for a long time. Facebook was overruled. Ian warned that there’s a lot more going on in Facebook than you think – especially in terms of using your data to target advertising, and other products and services.


Philip butler, University of London computer centre – Personalisation

In his opinion the future of technology is going to be about gadgets that just do what they’re supposed to do – he’s not a technologist himself and doesn’t need to know how technology works.

He’s very busy and doesn’t have much time to spend with his students, he usually gets to see a student for 15-20 mins a term and has to look up his students notes beforehand to remind himself.
With this in mind, he feels the challenge is how do we make effective learning tools to suit the pedagogy. Learning culture is shifting it’s no longer about passive learning, but utilising the tools available to us placing the learner at the centre.

ILP – They’ve created a personalisation framework visualisation of what the UI could look like, personalised and branded, which allows students to add their goals, what their barriers to learning are and more. He mentioned that this was inspired by the BBC’s learning websites.


Miles Metcalf – Campus of the future

They’re building a new campus for Ravensbourne College in Greenwich…

Miles talked about the challenges of IT in colleges, about user-owned- technology and how empowering it is. His vision of the future included using some of the money spent on computer labs to subsidise personal technology. Provide higher-end resources and integrate with user-owned workflows. He mentioned how not long ago that software was designed where user experience didn’t matter – his has changed. He says what IT departments aren’t used to is users taking over their ports with their P2P stuff. What is tomorrow’s IT department? Is it a defender of scarece resource and arbiter of fair use? Are we in an age of enterprise transformation?

He says it’s about the pedagogy – it’s a cohereant pedagogy where today’s students can become the practitioners and a negotiate public identity, Integrating extra-institutionall practice into their institutional-bound learning – it’s a personal learning environment via a social stack of software.


Tim Marshal – CEO JANET(UK)

He opened with asking how can the people who are presently teaching keep up with evolving technology fast enough to train the next generation? It’s a big challenge! He talked about seeing a Quantel Paintbox at a car boot sale. Once upon a time this was the cutting egde of digital imagery technology 20 years ago. He gave a brief talk about the evolution and TV formats from 405 line black and white, to the present.

Tim talked about Ultra High Definition TV and the recent groundbreaking SHV live link with London and the IBC in Amsterdam, which featured an interview with Erik Huggers.

Future of hi-definition – uses:
* Communication
* Sharing – our stuff
* Teaching – great for learning eg medical
* Learning
* Research – hi-def cameras on sea bed – collecting data for analysis
* Creating – creative industries opportunities
* Innovating – all sorts


* Financing considerations – hi-def is an expensive bit of kit at the moment, but there’s ways of mitigating this – ie sharing kit
* Don’t let the people who want to stop you from doing things stop you from innovating
* Be inventive and work in multidisciplinary teams – ie use the resources we have
* Leadership, UK has a lot of talented people, but needs to be more collaborative and joined up.
* Don’t forget to make sure our students have the very best – don’t forget them when planning and thinking about technology in education




  1. This conference looks to be really interesting and some very pertinent issues are being discussed. Thank you for posting your observations. It’s the next best thing to being there. Keep the reports on the sessions coming!

  2. Thanks for the wrap up of some of the sessions.
    I just wanted to point out that the personalisation framework from ULCC isn’t called LearnZone, this was just a visualisation of what the UI could look like, personalised and branded.
    Thanks again and hope to see you next year
    Best wishes

  3. Hi Frank, aha, apologies, I blame it on being a bit cloth-eared! Many thanks for letting me know – will ammend 🙂 Best, R

Comments are closed.