Keynote Speakers and the ONLINE EDUCA Debate




World-class experts will outline their ideas on the current state and future of e-learning in plenaries at OEB. Their presentations promise to be inspiring, provocative and full of food for thought. At the premiere of the “ONLINE EDUCA Debate”, speakers will examine the pros and cons of new technologies and the social web – join us and vote for the most convincing case!


Are we meeting the needs of our students? This crucial question will be the hot topic at this year’s ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN. Zenna Atkins, Chairman of the British schools’ inspection authority ‘Ofsted’ and Chairman of the Royal Navy’s Audit Committee, answers with an emphatic “no”. Atkins believes that “there is a real relevance gap growing, between the relevance of young people’s lives and what is going on. They are playing games at home, they are blue-toothing, they are exchanging, they are using technology in a way that has utterly left an enormous number of teachers and schools behind.” Lord David Puttnam also argues that a bridge has to be built: the role of teachers today is to respond to their students’ interests, experiences and media skills. Otherwise, he says, “schools may be missing out on their most valuable resource.” Puttnam is Chancellor of The Open University and Chairman of Futurelab. As Vice-Chairman of a recently established All-Party Parliamentary Group for video gaming in the UK Parliament, he promotes video games in the UK, emphasising their relevance for education. Atkins and Puttnam are both keynote speakers at this year’s Opening Plenary and just two of several progressive and revolutionary thinkers to speak at OEB this year.


Be sure not to miss the premiere of “The ONLINE EDUCA Debate”, hosted by former UK parliamentarian Dr Harold Elletson. On Thursday evening, “thought leaders” will lock horns with each other and the audience, as they discuss the effect of the increased use of technology and social software on students’ minds. Donald Clark, a director of LINE, Caspian and UFI, and Jerry Michalski, Founder and President of Sociate, will take up the fight and defend social media. While acknowledging that the use of PCs, the Internet and social media is not always beneficial or healthy, Michalski says that “there is probably more good than evil in it. […] What we haven’t yet done is to build into the technology we use a good ‘do not disturb’ function, so that it is easy to take time off from the Net. Nor have many of us taken the steps necessary to stay away voluntarily, even for certain periods of time each day. Control over our time and attention really comes from within, but these new shiny objects will be irresistible for some time to come. I do believe this will work out well for us in the end. Where the end is, however, I cannot say.” Opposing Michalski’s pro-technology point of view, Dr Aric Sigman, author of Remotely Controlled, claims that online social networking and the lack of face-to-face communication have biological effects and could lead to health problems such as cancer, strokes, heart disease and dementia. The debate promises to be a lively, interactive event and at the end of proceedings, participants will be asked to vote for the case they have found most convincing.


Other keynote speakers include Toolwire’s co-founder and author David James Clarke IV, Moodle founder Martin Dougiamas, Director of the SMARTlab Digital Media Institute, Prof Lizbeth Goodman and Prof Gilly Salmon from the University of Leicester, UK. In two plenaries on Friday, December 4th, they will share their thoughts on various aspects of online learning in the educational and corporate fields.


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