Every year, the OEB Global Conference hosts the ‘Learning Battle‘. This is a highly anticipated session run by Inge de Waard, Learning Innovation Coordinator at InnoEnergy and OEB23 keynote speaker. We caught up with Inge to share with you her insights into last year’s battle, and what this year holds. Come ready to join the learning arena and battle it out!
Hi Inge, thank you for your time! Please tell us a bit about your career and history with the OEB Global Conference.
OEB has helped to reshape my life. At age 39 and relying solely on my high school degree, I was paving my own way to climb a career ladder amidst PhD’s and Master degree holders. This meant I needed to work hard, and — most of all — reach out to people willing to allow me into their network. The first time I attended OEB was based on a proposal using role play videos to enhance doctor-patient communications in low resource settings. At that point, I’d just started a new position as the eLearning Coordinator at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (2006). Someone at work told me that if I could get a speaking proposal accepted at a conference, I could go to that conference. So, imagine a person like me, who had never gotten a travel budget professionally, suddenly being able to travel and learn from experts and not having to pay for it!
I completely immersed myself into research and looked for the biggest, international eLearning conference there was…Online Educa Berlin came up trumps. What distinguishes OEB from other conferences is its combination of research, EdTech innovation, and policy. It situates itself at the crossroad of educational innovation, be it in universities, governments, or businesses. While attending OEB, I had a lot to learn: what are conferences about (I was a real newbie), how do you connect to people who are willing to exchange knowledge (so many people!), and finding my way while acting as if I was part of that new world of experts. Luckily, at OEB there are multiple people willing to share their knowledge and stay human. I was lucky to connect, learn and progress in my own career thanks to people I met at OEB. As time went by, I got a Master’s degree, and a PhD — all the time coming back to OEB to share whatever I had learned, researched, or tested. So now, I try to give back as well.
What is the Learning Battle?
Basically, anyone in the audience can participate and share their newly found wisdom by speaking for 3 minutes on stage! The Learning Battle is a simple, informal way for attendees at OEB to share their new realisations in learning with a group of likeminded people. The idea is simple consisting of four steps:
- There is an open stage with a microphone with me as the master of ceremony, I call out for people in the audience who want to take the stage by raise of hands
- Each person taking the stage gets a 3-minute opportunity to highlight what new learning or teaching idea they are working on
- After their brief pitch, the audience asks a question to test the presenter in an amicable way
- Following the pitch and the question, the attending audience can ‘vote’ by means of applause. The louder the applause, the more points the presenter gets. After all the pitches, the person with the highest applause (and still in the room), wins the Learning Battle Cup!
OEB is based on networking and sharing knowledge. To ‘dare’ to network and share knowledge, you need to ‘dare’ to speak up. That is not always easy for everybody, but stepping into an informal spotlight creates opportunities. From a short 3-minute pitch, the audience can get a feel of who you are as a person, what you are working on, and whether they want to speak to you during the conference.
As a participant in the Learning Battle, you get a feeling of empowerment. You spoke up for an audience, you are the queen or king of your own professional life. You rule! The Learning Battle is intended to playfully get up to date with what people are doing and who is doing it. And I am there to support and guide what is happening.
What can we expect at the Learning Battle this year?
You never know what to expect, as the only thing that is fixed, is the format.
Who were the winners in the past? What made them stand out?
Interestingly, those participants who won in the past were not that experienced in pitching. They shared their current work with a passion for learning and teaching. The winners were people who pitched either a new learning format that increased learning uptake, or who shared new research or new teaching that clearly has an impact on the learning process. Of course, having a story while pitching helps, but what always amazes me, is that the emotion evoked by the speakers seems to me to have a lasting impression on the audience.
The biggest take away from the Learning Battle is the strength it gives to the speakers. Those who took the stage, frequently talk to me later in the conference saying that after that moment on stage, they felt stronger, and they were more open to talk and connect with people throughout the conference. Taking the stage, daring to share your work, turns a participant into an actor. That moment of choosing your own destiny, even if it is just grabbing a mic and addressing an audience, is empowering.
Do you think it was always a close competition or the battle had clear winners?
It is always a close competition! To be honest, I am always humbled by the new work people share and I learn as I stand by listening to them. All the attendees are passionate about learning, and you can feel it time and time again. This means there has never been a clear winner, it is always a close call. We even had a tie last year, as two pitches were so similar, we just had to share the competition cup between them. The Learning Battle is all about sharing, winning the award is just a playful addition. Each person taking the stage is a winner, as they act upon an impulse to share a bit of knowledge.
What are you looking forward to at this year’s Learning Battle?
As always, I look forward to hearing people share their knowledge. Hearing what makes them enthusiastic, which new realms they are exploring. Meeting people is the best way to learn and get a hunch of what to expect in the overall conference. It is a pleasure to host the Learning Battle and to see so many different people in action. In just one hour, you get multiple new ideas, and I cannot help but reflect upon them afterwards.
And lastly, what else are you looking forward to at OEB this year?
The difficulty is always choosing which sessions to follow. But as an overall theme, I want to see where AI is heading, for I am — like so many of us — trying to find my way through all the emerging options: which applications are here to stay, what is a new implementation for AI that no one could have anticipated, and … who is spearheading the new tomorrow in learning. It will be a blast, I am sure!