E-Learning Expo, Athens, Greece

It was a great pleasure to deliver a keynote and participate in E-Learning Expo in Athens.

Media coverage of social unrest in Greece paints a completely one-sided picture. Whilst clearly there is a crisis in Greece, there is also a very strong drive towards progress evidenced by hundreds of teachers and decision makers giving up their Saturday and Sunday to work out how to implement ICT into their schooling systems.

The trade show part of the Expo was as vibrant as any other I’ve seen, and it was wonderful to see so much interest in education technology. The event made prime time news (from 48:50s here : http://www.antenna.gr/webtv/watch?cid=b0_aoe1brh7_i%3d)

With support from the EU and the Greek Government, local entrepreneurs and companies, and multinationals, there are a large number projects now running in the Greek schooling system. But with this comes real dangers, and this was what I addressed in my presentation. The first danger is that teachers can be overwhelmed with multiple initiatives, leading to low levels of implementation. The second is that that running multiple uncordinated projects can lead to chaos and low levels of overall return on investment. So, the main message of my presentation was that there is a need – from MoE level downwards, and school level upwards – for an overall framework to co-ordinate activities and drive out complexity. The main high level goal in Greece – from MoE down – should be to create the overall environment to not only encourage innovations, but to enable innovation to scale in a coordinated way. Without a high level vision and execution framework, widespread innovation – instead of pockets of innovation – is going to take a long time to happen.

The core ideas behind the presentation is covered in “Driving Complextiy Out of Schooling ICT“. Other subjects covered were Cloud computing, and Learning Software 2.0.

Slides from the presentations are here: http://edutechassociates.net/?attachment_id=1456

On the second day, a session on funding innovation highlighted Microsoft’s new Innovation Centre that supports innovative e-learning startups by:

  1. Providing access to free tools through the Bizspark program (www.bizspark.com)
  2. Support in finding partners for startups (e.g. http://athens.startupweekend.org/)
  3. Support for incubating innovative startups
  4. Business and technical training

Thanks to: Elena Zaglaridou; Fotis Draganidis; Teo Milev; Konstantinos Doukas; Dimitris Laios and Isidoros Sideridis from InEdu; Nikitas Kastis; and Dr. Symeon Retalis.

Thanks also to Peter Birch at the EU for an excellent presentaiton on “ICT for learning: the experience of the Lifelong Learning Programme”.