Three years ago, the Innovate ELT conference was born. Since then, it has been hugely successful for a number of reasons; namely in its ability to bring anyone in the world of ELT together to learn from each other, share ideas, challenge the status quo and contribute to making a difference to our industry. Feedback from attendees consistently enforced our desire to maintain a solid community of people who are passionate about what they do, and provide an intimate space to discuss challenges, discover solutions or explore new opportunities.
As host and coorganizer of the Innovate ELT conference alongside ELTJam, as the conference grew, so did our desire to reach more education professionals and provide a more targeted event which would enable us to dig deeper into an area of specialization. As experts in the field of EdTech, ELTJam were the first to step up to the challenge and provide a new conference, as a branch of Innovate Events. The event was to be the Innovate EdTech conference and it took place on November 11th at Loughborough University in London.
As a guest at the conference, it was easy to see that the essence of every Innovate event had been preserved. In attendance was a great selection of speakers, and a programme that looked at edtech from different angles, such as legibility, interactive design and mobile learning design. The format of each session included practical sessions with classroom tips, workshops to help attendees learn and develop new skills, a panel discussion, drop-in sessions and mini-pleneries.
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One of the highlights of the day for me was the panel hosted by Sophie Bailey titled “Multiple Perspectives on Learner Experience Design”, with panelists David Fudge from School21, Tim Moore from Harris Federation, Sophie Deen from Detective Dot and Enrico Riva from the British Dyslexia Association. The core discussion was centred around how lessons, resources and planning might be designed around the needs of learners, and the discussion generated so many questions from the audience as we became more and more curious about the topic that we ran out of time. Another highlight was the session given by Amit Patel which explored user-centred design approaches which puts the user (or “person” as Amit prefers to call them) at the forefront of all design to ensure a great user experience. One of the last talks of the day for me was presented by Harriet Ballantyn from Busuu, an app dedicated to providing online resources to people all over the world who can dedicate just 10 minutes per day to learning a language; learning when and where the learner wants, even without an internet connection.
During the day, there were also fun activities for attendees to get involved in which encouraged us all to interact with each other. I also think the food should have a special mention as it was so delicious, especially the cakes served during the breaks! The day was rounded off by a party in local bar Mason & Co next to the venue.
Upon reflection of the conference the next day I feel I have a better understanding of how edtech is changing and adapting to the learners themselves. There was a strong focus on the importance of a learner-centred approach and how it will impact schools and businesses. We need to identify opportunities in edtech which will ultimately lead to our learners reaching maximum learning potential in a way which suits their source of motivation, learning style and lifestyle. One other thing which has become clear is that edtech is a never-ending series of questions, solutions, opportunities and threats, which we can never quite feel we have conquered as it is constantly changing and evolving.
If you would like to join the Innovate community, find out more about the next Innovate ELT conference coming up on May 11th-12th at Oxford TEFL Barcelona. We hope to connect with you at the next event!