The rolling programme of interactive formats in OEB’s newest feature made sure that not just the speakers but the audience was part of the show. Speaking after his presentation on re-humanising e-learning, David White from the University of the Arts reflected that “100+ people seemed surprisingly willing to enter a piece of shared theatre!”
By Annika Burgess
It was this willingness of the audience to interact that helped make the Spotlight Stage “a real hit”, according to Plan B Learning’s Donald Clark, whose entertaining group presentation on the realities of futuristic wearables such as the Oculus Rift and META SpaceGlasses had the audience in awe.
“VR (virtual reality) puts you in another world. It can put you in a construction site where you literally have to get the ladder at the right angle to climb for health and safety, or it can put you in a hospital. We have applications that we are building now that put you in a social care home where you are looking after elderly patients,” Clark said when outlining the learning benefits of VR.
“This is all about real learning in real contextualised worlds. I think the theory of learning tells us that learning by doing is something we’ve ignored forever – we’ve gotten far too knowledge focused in our approach to teaching and learning and now we have an opportunity to reset the balance.”
Later, Julia Hobsbawm, founder of the ‘knowledge networking’ business Editorial Intelligence, entered into conversation with Richard Straub, President of the Drucker Society Europe, and, together with the audience, challenged the strategies being used to prepare learners for the world of work. “If we’re not careful, education is like a shiny new car and it devalues as soon as you’ve driven off the forecourt,” Hobsbawm said.
Other dynamic group discussions included a panel of entrepreneurs, who highlighted how to harness the power of technology to provide new opportunities for the next generation, and members of the ‘Berlin Singularity Group’ debating the ethics of Artificial Intelligence and biohacking.
Solo presentations weren’t without their twists – Professor Viktor Mayer-Schönberger quizzed the audience on big data whilst the Design Research Lab’s Fabian Hemmert made us question our relationship with technology: “My smartphone can put me into zombie mode, losing consciousness of myself and losing consciousness of the world around me,” Hemmert said.
Ken Webster, Head of Innovation at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, also made an impact with his visual representation of why the circular economy is important in education. Teaming up with graphic recorder Natalie Stewart, the final image displays Webster’s ideas of systems thinking [see image below].
“Why do we need to get some systems thinking in the game? If most real world systems are complex adaptive systems, we need people who can understand that – who love the idea of uncertainty, who love the idea of dynamic systems. More like a metabolism than a machine. We need people who can understand relationships and their connections, and their consequences,” Webster said.
In the final session on Friday, speaking alongside fellow expert bloggers Stephen Downes and Craig Weiss, Wilfred Rubens from the Open University professed that he wanted “to be surprised.” With more than 35 speakers and special guests, including live music and a boisterous comedy act, the Spotlight Stage certainly delivered.
Graphic recorder Natalie Stewart’s representation of Ken Webster’s circular economy