The OEB Plenary Debate
Date Thursday, Dec 2 Time – Room Potsdam I
This House believes Education has failed to learn the lesson of Covid-19
Across the world, the pandemic has been extremely disruptive for education at every level. Workplaces, schools, colleges and universities have all faced immense challenges. Educators, learning professionals and students have had to adapt rapidly to a new reality. Many feel badly let down by a system which, they say, has failed them. Others say the disruption Covid has brought is exactly what global education needed. But has education learned the lesson? Is the change Covid has brought systemic? And is it sustainable? Can education face the future with confidence? Or is it just as likely to fall victim to the next big shock?
Editor / Senior Fellow, International communications consultant and editor of the eLearning Africa Report, United Kingdom
International communications consultant and editor of the eLearning Africa Report, UK
Dr Harold Elletson is an International Communications Consultant and Senior Fellow of the Institute for Statecraft.
He is a founding director of the Africa Forum on Business, Investment and Security, a member of the steering committee of OEB, a member of the Organising Committee of eLearning Africa and a consultant to ICWE GmbH. He is also the editor of The eLearning Africa Report.
Dr Elletson was previously Director of the NATO Forum on Business and Security, which he created with support from the NATO Science Programme.
A former Member of the United Kingdom Parliament (from 1992-1997), he served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in the early stages of the peace process and was also a member of the Select Committee on Environmental affairs. He served as a member of the Lancashire Education Authority (the Education Committee of Lancashire County Council) before being elected to Parliament where he represented the interests of schools and colleges in his constituency in discussions with Ministers and on the floor of the House of Commons. He is a Fellow of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme and of the Industry and Parliament Trust.
As a communications and public affairs specialist, he has advised many leading companies on aspects of their business in challenging markets, including BP in Azerbaijan and Alstom in Siberia. He has written widely on political and historical subjects and his first book, The General Against the Kremlin, that was published by Little Brown. His journalism has been published in a variety of newspapers and magazines. Dr Elletson holds a PhD in Social Sciences from the University of Bradford.
eLearning Expert and Strategist, eLearning Expert and Strategist at Plan B Learning, United Kingdom
Donald is an entrepreneur, CEO, Professor, speaker and blogger. He was CEO and one of the original founders of Epic Group plc, which established itself as the leading company in the UK e-learning market, floated on the Stock Market in 1996 and sold in 2005. Describing himself as ‘free from the tyranny of employment’, he now the CEO of an AI learning company WildFire, investor and Board member of PlanB learning, LearningPool and Cogbooks. He has been involved in consulting and implementing online learning in schools, FE, HE, corporate and government.
Donald has been involved in film, games, web, mobile, MOOCs, Oculus Rift and won many awards for the design and implementation of online learning. He is a regular speaker at national and international conferences, having delivered talks in the US, Europe, Far East, Middle East and Africa, and won several ‘Best speaker’ awards … also a regular (and controversial) blogger on online learning!
Education Specialist, UNESCO
Mark West works in UNESCO’s Education Sector, where he examines how technology can improve the quality, equity, and accessibility of learning.
He is currently leading a project to develop a Global Declaration on Connectivity for Education and authoring a UNESCO report called ‘An Ed-Tech Tragedy’ about lessons learned following the global shift from school-based education to technology-based education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He is also active in outlining guidance to make digital solutions more inclusive for people with low literacy skills, helping governments enact policies and practices to ensure that women and girls develop strong digital skills, and reviewing educational innovations. He has written extensively about technology and education, and his most recent publication, ‘I’d Blush if I Could’, led Apple and other technology companies to make major changes to the way Siri and other AI assistants project gender.
Prior to joining UNESCO in 2011, Mr. West researched education in Azerbaijan as a Fulbright Fellow and worked as a teacher and teacher trainer in the United States. He is a graduate of Stanford University.
Vice President for Higher Education, National Union of Students
Hillary is NUS Vice President for Higher Education. She was previously the Undergraduate Education Officer and Chair of the Widening Participation Network at the University of Bristol Students’ Union.
A champion of students, Hillary has worked on many projects that have looked to support the most marginalised students in education and beyond. From decolonisation to widening access work, she is extremely passionate in ensuring that students are at the centre of education and are the architects of their own education.
Linguist, Educator, Awardwinning Digital Learning and Teaching Pioneer, Germany
Jürgen Handke is a German Professor for English Linguistics and Web Technology. He retired from university in April 2020 but still conducts several teaching and learning projects.
A pioneer of digital teaching and way ahead of his time Handke started to introduce innovative, digital and interactive teaching methods in the form of CD-ROMs in the early 1990s. This new way of teaching resulted in the creation of the world’s first and largest e-learning platform for linguistics, the Virtual Linguistics Campus (VLC) in 2000. The VLC offers more than 500 fully certified linguistic courses and course material for theoretical and applied linguistics, ranging from introductory classes such as Phonology, Morphology, Syntax und Semantics to highly specialised courses such as 'Human Language Technologies'. Currently, the VLC has more than 18,000 active users with more than 3,000 visitors daily. Since 2014 the VLC has hosted the world's first MOOC-curriculum with currently more than 12,000 active participants.
In 2013, Handke started the Virtual Linguistics Campus YouTube channel, now the largest linguistics channel in the world with more than 8 million clicks and more than 92,000 subscribers and more than 400 videos, which all involve the CC BY licensing model.
Since 2012 Handke published several books about modern teaching, the most influential ones are 2012 'E-Learning, E-Teaching and E-Assessment', 2014 'Patient Hochschullehre', 2015 'Handbuch Hochschullehre Digital' (2nd ed. 2017, 3rd ed. 2020) and 2020 'Humanoide Roboter – Showcase, Partner und Werkzeug'. He was part of the book sprint initiative as a result of which he co-authored the book “Robots in Education” in 2021.
In 2013 Handke received the highest Hessian Teaching and Learning Award for his Inverted Classroom Mastery Model, in October 2015 he was awarded the highest German teaching award, Ars Legendi Prize for Digital Teaching and Learning. 2016 he received the DIE-prize for his MOOC #DEU4ARAB and in 2017 he received the national OER-Award for his MOOC FIT4UNI. 2019 Handke and his team were awarded the prize “Science in Dialogue” for their communication concept “Robotikum”.
Handke is a member of the national board "Hochschulforum Digitalisierung" and of the advisory board for the foundation of the new TU Nuremberg. In 2017, he started using humanoid robots in digital teaching and learning scenarios (state government funded project H.E.A.R.T), in 2019 he added another educational robot project RoboPraX. Whereas H.E.A.R.T. aims at making humanoid robots partners in higher education digital teaching and learning scenarions, RoboPraX introduces humanoid robots as tools for pupils to develop and reach new stages of algorithmic thinking.