19 October 2023
Abid Patel, IT Director and education influencer, couldn’t have put it better: “Tons of networking, lots of learning, some really great conversations, challenging thinking.” This perfectly sums up the incredible experience at EDUtech Europe 2023, held in Amsterdam on 11-12 October.
With close to 1,500 attendees, this event was a hub of knowledge and inspiration. Over 200 experts from schools and universities took the stage, sharing their invaluable insights on the current and future challenges in the sector. From AI to digital strategy, pedagogies enhanced by EdTech to wellbeing and mental health, lifelong learning, sustainability and more – every key topic was covered.
In addition, attendees had the opportunity to interact with over 45 tech providers, exploring their latest offerings tailored for educational institutions. But that’s not all! EDUtech Europe also hosted 75 game-changing EdTech Start-ups from across the region, showcasing their cutting-edge innovations that are bound to make waves in the industry.
AI is the Word
The omnipresent power of AI was certainly felt in every conversation in the room. You could sense a collective recognition of the sheer potential, but also the multitude of risks, fears, and challenges in making it a viable partner in our daily classrooms.
Keynote speaker, Laura Knight from Berkhamstead School in the UK conveyed the need for educators and leaders to navigate the integration of AI with balance in mind. Find a comfortable medium between opportunities but be cautious of the risks in privacy, security, and structural disruption. They should also focus on enhancing digital literacy and pedagogical skills while maintaining agility in a rapidly evolving educational landscape.
Dr. Inge Molenaar, Director at the National Education Lab AI in The Netherlands and Professor of Education and Artificial Intelligence at Radboud University proposed applying the concept of hybrid human-AI learning technologies as a framework to approach AI integration, emphasising the importance of broadening data sources to diagnose various learner characteristics. Concurrently, to advance learning technology, it is crucial to prioritise ethics, transparency, and data protection, foster public-private partnerships, and involve educators in the transition process.
Education is treading a careful path, learning to navigate AI’s integration into teaching and learning both informally and formally. A visible effort to grasp the implications of this technology can be seen at every level—from classroom instructions to leadership discussions. It is safe to say that educational circles have started to come to terms with the imminent introduction of AI into educational setups. Though cautiously optimistic at this key turning point, many practitioners have advantages to gain, and risks to weigh, in light of the possibilities AI has to offer.
Play Never Gets Old
Every student starts learning through play. We were all students participating in play before. Event title sponsor, LEGO® Education, brought out the ‘player’ in us once again during their opening presentation.
How many ways can you imagine a block figurine of a duck? LEGO® Education President, Victor Saeijs got participants to create a figure of a duck with just a couple of LEGO® blocks. Driving home the message that learning through play never ends and the power of play to ignite joy for both teachers and students.
Demonstrating the power of play and games was also Steve Isaacs, Epic Games- “our students are living in the prototype of the metaverse, they will be instrumental in building it”. Meet students where they are gathering, and where they feel most comfortable expressing themselves. Sandbox games, like Robolox and Minecraft, have the ability to shift students from playing games to creating content within them. Game technology is transforming industries and future jobs. “It is our responsibility to nurture the next generation of creators, our future is in their hands” shares Isaacs.
Move Over AI! It’s Quantum’s Turn
Yes, AI is becoming increasingly present and starting to really embed itself in our day-to-day work – and with the times so quickly changing, we can’t help but wonder what other avenues might soon open up. We certainly have our sights fixed on quantum technology.
Attendees got to crack the quantum realm with Christian Kraglund Andersen, QuTech, as he illustrated the foundations of this emerging technology in the simplest terms possible. The projected potential economic value of quantum computing in key industries looks to be substantial, but Andersen throws caution to the wind. With the technology still in its infancy, predicting its value might be premature. It is more crucial to bring the sector to a ‘stable state’ first.
But there’s a shortage of experts and difficulty in understanding its promise. To bridge this gap, education is needed to convey quantum capabilities to non-experts, followed by the development of a quantum workforce through targeted programs, lifelong learning initiatives, and accessible resources to ensure quantum’s potential is harnessed effectively.
Fostering Collaboration Amongst Educators, Experts, and Innovators
Immersing yourself in a community of like-minded individuals is an incredibly inspiring and reassuring experience. The event offered stimulating discussions and presentations, allowing attendees to connect with their peers and learn together.
Emma Carralón shares “My biggest takeaway was the opportunity to connect with other like-minded educators… After the panel, I was approached by numerous digital leads from International Schools and it was thought-provoking to share some of our success stories, as well as the areas which we feel we need to develop.”
The diversity of attendees, coming from across Europe, brought together various perspectives and expertise, resulting in a rich exchange of ideas.
Commenting on her EDUtech experience, Nikoleta Yiannoutsou, Scientific Officer at the Joint Research Center of the European Commission reflects on the people she met, including “stakeholders from different aspects of digital education, the academics, the policymakers, the teachers, schools, and not only teachers but people from schools that have different roles like ICT coordinators, EdTech teams, which help us to see how many different dimensions exist in the whole concept of digital education.”
In these challenging times for educators, it’s truly thrilling to see teachers, leaders, and EdTech experts making time to come together. This gathering provided an opportunity to learn from one another and explore ways to enhance education for today’s learners and future generations.
Here’s what EDUtech’s Content Director Alessandro Bilotta had to say reflecting on this year’s event, “EDUtech Europe was a great success. The show floor was buzzing and I am so happy with all the positive feedback we’ve been receiving from speakers, delegates, and sponsors. We have great plans for 2024. We are going to break silos and facilitate conversations among stakeholders across the wider education sector. We will make sure we include TVET, skills-focused training, and lifelong learning. On top of covering the most pressing topics for the sector, we’ll shine a spotlight on sustainability, wellbeing, esports, and cybersecurity.”
EDUtech Europe will return to Amsterdam in 2024 on 2-3 October. Discover how you can get involved here.