The Future of Edtech Conference 2019

What is new and happening in Edtech?

The Future of Edtech Conference runs annually as part of London Tech Week, and this year the topic was Transforming Higher Education, with their strapline of “Uniting University Leaders and Transformational Technology to Support Innovation Across the 21st Century University”. I was invited to contribute to a panel, to host a lunch discussion table and to be part of the Vice-Chancellor and Senior Leadership team Roundtable, a discussion forum to hear and respond to some new sector wide work JISC have been undertaking.  Sophie Bailey, the Founder and host of The Edtech Podcast partnered #futureedtech to organise and invite speakers for all the conference themes.

The panel topic ‘How to develop the team who will deliver change’ was live streamed and recorded for the EdTech podcast of course!

Panel Session: The future of EdTech

Debbie Holley with Sophie THE EDTECH PODCAST Founder


“Technology is not just a siloed activity concerning only the IT department; instead, it is the means to connect the entire enterprise and its various missions.”

  • Which are the digital capabilities needed to create and sustain the modern university?
  • How can these capabilities be developed among existing staff who may be resistant to change?
  • What is the role of culture and infrastructure in ensuring these digital capabilities may flourish?
  • Which recruitment practices are bringing new leadership into Universities from outside the HE sector?
  • Balancing innovation and risk


Sophie Bailey, Founder and Host, The Edtech Podcast



Three key issues from the first day fed into the day two discussion, one issue sector wide was the gap between strategy and implementation’; the second was the diverse vision of the future. Charles B.W. Prince, Acting CEO and Director of the Centre for Student Success at UEL challenging us all with his vision of bite size education and no physical boundaries, at a time when we are all investing in lovely new buildings! The final theme was the old chestnut of how much change is desired, but bureaucracy and red tape internally are a key barrier, and IT solutions are needed to break the impasse. The ‘how to’ discussions followed:  ‘how to’ blend of the human and the computer for Artifical Intelligence; ‘how to’ prepare University boards for very different challenges, ‘how to’ bring in industry best practice and yet remain true to educational principles, ‘how to’ visualise and prepare Universitivites for the class of 2030.

Expert Panel

And finally my opportunity to host a lunch panel discussion table, and I achieve my ambition to be a ‘lady that lunches’ albeit not in the way I expected! My table was one of three tables, where an expert would facilitate conversations. Our table discussed ‘How does change happen across the whole University?’ I invited Jane Murphy and Prof Ale Armellini from the University of Northampton, to share their experiences of driving through pedagogic change as part of the new campus build, where activity based learning for all is incorporated into the building design – no lecture theatre, no hardware, laptops and fantastic robust wifi and a system called BAN-CO to engage learners in groups of around 30.We covered graduate debt, using institutional buildings and significant purchases such as VLEs to drive change, the importance of culture change, sharing across the sector, and pedagogies to inspire and engage our learners.




I will be adding to my reading and resource list:

Sophie Bailey and the Edtech Podcast (edited panels discussions will appear here)

Student well being – a shout out to Prof Laurie Santos for running happiness classes – now available as a Yale MOOC

The Open University Innovating Pedagogy Report 2019

Joseph E Auon Robot-Proof Higher Education in Age of Artificial Intelligence

The OECD report about the future of work

and Microsoft Report on the class of 2020


The Learnwell ‘Nudge’ project


The CIPD Artificial Intelligence and automation in the workplace fact sheet


It was great to share and hear about fantastic innovation, both at Bournemouth as well as what is going on across the tech scene.

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