Jisc’s head of FE and skills, Paul McKean

Yesterday afternoon, Parliament hosted the Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL)’s Summer Symposium.

Organised in partnership with Policy Connect, the event, entitled ‘New Horizons in FE’, focused on the emerging role of technology in further education (FE) and its potential to transform teaching, learning and the education environment.

A networking lunch provided opportunities for delegates to try a variety of virtual reality (VR) tools and experiences.

Jisc showcased our vision of an immersive, technology-enhanced world, seen through the eyes of Natalie 4.0, a student of the future.

Looking ahead

This was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Lord Holmes MBE, chair of the EdTech Leadership Group.

Notable speakers - including Maren Deepwell, chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) and Deborah Millar from Grimsby Institute – took part in a lively and informative debate.

Digital technology - including artificial intelligence, automation, the Internet of Things and robotics - is affecting how we work, rest and play.

The World Economic Forum’s 2018 future of jobs report, which states that every business needs an ‘augmentation strategy’ to identify tasks that can be more efficiently and effectively carried out by a machine, and tasks that need to be carried out by humans.

Interestingly, just last week, Amazon announced that it is set to retrain a third of its workforce for exactly this reason.

A positive vision 

At Jisc, we want the UK to be the best research and education nation in its use of digital technologies.

Illustrating transformation in teaching, learning, assessment and the FE environment overall, I presented my view of a college of the future at the symposium, imagining a day in the life of a college principal in a few years' time.

This helps describe our vision of Education 4.0. With the support of the government’s edtech strategy, I believe much of this is within our reach.

Paul McKean, head of FE and skills, Jisc

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