In this post, Dr.Kumar shares his experience and explains why such a trip is money well spent.
To achieve this wonderful educational experience, based on shared learning, collaboration and understanding I regularly attend several exhibitions and conferences around the world to ensure the teaching practices at UWC mirror the world we live in; a place where everyone is learning to live and thrive in a global, multi-cultural environment.
I want to understand how teachers are teaching in different parts of the world to support professional development and what technologies are being used to achieve this.
The sheer size and diversity of Bett makes this event so wonderful for visitors of any nation. The broad range of presenters and exhibitors ensured I interacted with ideas I don’t encounter everyday. I waited until I arrived at Bett to consider which seminars and stands – this year the most interesting ones for me were simulated virtual reality, anti-plagiarism, content curation and learning management systems.
It was the seminar content and conference speakers, however, that inspired me the most.
The Great Education Debate on the final day of Bett is just one example. The session was designed to pose the question, "Can technology ever replace the classroom?" Futurist Anne-Lise Kjaer, was just one of a panel of contributors who discussed whether technology can take the place of a class and teacher. She was passionate about the need to inspire young people and ignite their imaginations; enhance their creativity and confidence so they can pick ideas up and start to juggle with them; encourage resourcefulness through challenge, but also the ability to reflect, change and benefit from the experience of others; to motivate a love of learning for life.
The debate was particularly appropriate to the theme I have of asking "how do we help our faculty use technology to help the teaching they do?" Far too often we have vendors who are so interested in the technology that they forget it is the people who will make a difference with the technology and its adoption. Adoption is the key thing we need to think about, and how the technology will help us achieve our objectives.
In terms of the exhibition area of over 600 technology driven resource suppliers, I took back a lot of inspirational ideas that I could see would enhance the students’ learning experiences. On the journey back to the US I wrote up all the insight I’d gathered so I could share these ideas and start conversations with my peers at the UWC.
One exhibitor in particular, Symbaloo, made me think differently about our own website and how we could help our students to organise their researched data. Students today are faced with an explosion of information every time they visit the Internet and, therefore, learning to curate this content into tiles, rather like you do in Pinterest, could offer a new way of managing their learning.
I also saw a new company with an anti-plagiarism solution. Spending just a few minutes chatting to this Swedish company was an helpful education on the design decisions for rolling out anti-plagiarism policies and tools.
Another exhibitor who inspired me to consider virtual reality as a way of teaching in the future was a company using Xbox Kinect on various surfaces; the ceiling, floor and walls for a completely immersive ‘walking tour’ experience. As the technology matures I can certainly see how this would create very different learning experiences for our students.
During the year I have also visited events including EFMD and AACSB to hear from academic colleagues and accreditors. The ASU+GSV summit (Global Silicon Valley) is one I attend to hear from early-stage education entrepreneurs.
On reflection, I probably took back about a dozen ideas from Bett to inspire our teams to consider news ways of doing things; it was such a valuable experience and one that ensures our schools are always evolving in line with the world’s changing needs.
Mukul Kumar is also a trustee of Hult International Business School