In the first of the two morning plenaries, speakers Chris Bishop, Rick Van Sant, Sann Rene Glaza and Eva Majewski discussed the science of learning, tween texting habits and the future of work training in a session titled Lifelong Learning: A Competitive Advantage.
After a standing ovation in honour of Nelson Mandela, Chris Bishop from Future Workplace kicked off the session by talking about quitting. “The days of working somewhere for 35 years are over,” he said. “Today’s learners are going to have 8-10 jobs before they’re 38.”
Sann Rene Glaza from Toyota then discussed the importance of in-depth on-the-job training. “Toyota customers today sometimes know more than our employees in the showroom because of the Internet” she said. But is that a bad thing? While Eva Majewski from the European Democrat Students told the audience not to “be afraid of the young digital native,” Rick Van Sant from Blackboard struck a more sceptical note, questioning whether technological innovation was having a good effect on learning. “Students who are digital natives aren’t necessarily better learners,” he told the crowd. Van Sant believes that even with a raft of new gadgets, the fundamentals of learning haven’t changed. “Millennials are not different learners; they just communicate differently,” he said. “Learning is a neurological process.”
Friday’s second plenary took the title Learning Moves: models for global learning. Chaired by Dr. Maggy Beukes-Amiss, who heads the Department of Information and Communication at the University of Namibia, the plenary discussed key trends and focused on how institutions and organisations are changing amidst keener attention to new skill sets for students.
Professor Mitchell Stevens, Associate Professor of Education at Stanford University, shed light on the relationship between the state and interactive learning. The identity category of citizenship, which was put in place by the nation state, is being disrupted amid education research. Universities in the 21st century have a quasi-autonomous relationship with states, as digitally mediated instruction is increasingly transnational.
Dr. Mohammad Al-Ohali, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister for Educational Affairs, highlighted the country’s 25-year AFAAQ plan, which rolled out in 2008. This plan will see citizens participate more in higher education and transform the country into a knowledge based society.
Judy Verses, President Global Enterprise & Education at Rosetta Stone highlighted life-long learning and some of the rewards of technology culture. Disturbingly, technology is more developed for shopping than education, she noted.
Philipp Schmidt, Executive Director, Peer 2 Peer University stressed the importance of passion as new mental models for learning online emerge. People are starting learning communities with their friends and families and sharing their experience. “Learning for everyone by anyone is not so crazy any more.”
The 6th was the final day of ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN 2013. It was also St Nicholas’ day, celebrated across Germany with chocolate and dressing up. Snow fell in the morning, giving the closing moments of the Conference a festive air. At the same time, as the events surrounding OEB13 drew to a close, there was a sense of purpose; over 2,000 participants were about to return home, to dedicate themselves to another year of progress in e-learning worldwide.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Learning Moves”: a phrase whose double meaning was impressed on all of us. Learning is always going forward: and we go forward with it. Learning progresses, changes, and improves year after year; and, as OEB13 has shown, it also has an incredible power to inspire, amaze – and move us.