The Education in the Digital Era conference took place on December 11th, 2014, in Brussels, Belgium. Ministers, leaders of educational institutions, and educational innovators convened to discuss the opportunities and challenges of adapting education to a faster changing, digital society and economy, shaping education's place and priority in the EU's sustainable growth agenda.
The conference featured outstanding speakers and started by an opening session with Stefania Giannini, the Italian Minister of Education, Tibor Navracsics, the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Silvia Costa, the Chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education, and Lord David Puttnam, the Chair of Atticus Education where the speakers emphasized the need to make education more accessible, by opening it up and making OER pervasive. Europe's success in doing so will determine our future and Europe's economic growth. You can check the video recording of the opening session part 1 and opening session part 2. After the opening session, the first panel revolved around increasing the quality and relevance of learning. Bruce Dixon, Co-founder & President of the Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation, began the session by claiming that there is a general lack of awareness of the need to address student access to technology. After this, Anka Mulder, Vice-President of Delft Technical University, Giovanna Carnevali, Director of Fundació Mies van der Rohe, and Roberto Viola, European Commission Deputy Director-General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology, discussed the quality and relevance learning in the digital era. You can check the video recording of the first panel discussion part 1 and first panel discussion part 2 During the first panel, a poll was launched for the online and onsite audience which asked about the audience’s views on OER. As it turns out, according to them, digital materials and open educational resources could make the way educators teach and learners learn more effective. Alongside the debate, participants were able to visit and experiment a replica of European Schoolnet's Future Classroom Lab, a glimpse at some of the most recent developments in learning technologies, and hear first-hand the astonishing educational projects of the Open Education Challenge winners which illustrate the potential of entrepreneurship and innovation in education. During the lunch break, the award ceremony of the Open Education Challenge also took place. The second panel concentrated on showing the efforts regarding increasing the impact of educators and it was introduced by Pasi Sahlberg, visiting Professor of Practice at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, who claimed among other issues that PISA and similar methods of assessing students make it difficult for teachers on learning outcomes. The impulse statement was followed by a discussion among the members of the panel: Gregor Mohorcic, Director General of the Slovenian Pre-School and Basic Education Directorate, Graham Brown-Martin, Founder of the Learning Without Frontiers, and John Higgins, Director-General of Digital Europe. You can check the video recording of the second panel session here For each one of the panels, an online debate took place before the conference (from early November); Maria Perifanou presented the results of the online discussion in each panel. You can see the results presentation here. The last thematic panel addressed inequalities in education through better access and lower cost with an impulse statement by Carolina Jeux and a panel discussion that included the participation of Mandla Makhanya, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of South Africa, Lord Jim Knight, Shadow Employment & Welfare minister in the House of Lords, and Alek Tarkowski, Co-founder and Director of Centrum Cyfrowe Projekt Polska. You can check the video recording of the third panel session here. A ministerial panel where ministers of Education from Luxembourg, Lithuania and Italy engaged in a lively discussion regarding the future of education in Europe served as the last panel session. You can check the video recording of the ministerial panel session here. The ceremony was closed by the final remarks of Xavier Prats-Monné, European Commission Director General for Education and Culture, who gave some guidelines on how to move forward towards the education that we want in 21st Century Europe. His entire address was captured in this video-recording. Please go to the conference website to see the agenda, the list of speakers, and the summary video recording.
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