‘GRILLING’ in Iceland for Higher Education Experts

Two of the Edtech industry’s most outspoken commentators will be interrogated about their controversial views on the future of higher education in a ‘Hard Talk’-style interview at the OEB ‘MidSummit’ in Reykjavik on June 8th.

Roger Schank, Chief Executive of Socratic Arts and one of the world’s leading authorities on the use of artificial intelligence in education, and ‘Plan B’ blogger Donald Clark, a “serial entrepreneur” who has won numerous awards for the design of online learning programmes, believe higher education is “unfit for purpose”. They will face a barrage of detailed questioning from leading Internet expert and Guardian commentator Andrew Keen, the author of ‘The Internet is Not the Answer’, as they try to defend their view that higher education is failing to take account of the rapidly changing needs of markets and employers.

“Universities are run by professors,” says Schank. “At the top universities, in order to become a professor, you have to have demonstrated, and must continue to demonstrate, an ability to do cutting-edge research. Then we ask these researchers to teach. They have very little interest in teaching and, if they must teach, they want to teach about the research they are doing.

“This would be fine and dandy, if just the top universities behaved this way. They would produce the limited number of researchers that we need to keep advancing our knowledge. The trouble is that nearly every university feels the need to copy the model of the top places. So the 500th ranked university will still teach about their research to students who will surely never be doing research. Most universities refuse to address the real workplace needs and refuse to teach practical skills.”

The session, which is entitled “Is HE still worth it?”, promises to be a highlight of the conference. Keen, once an evangelist for high-tech, is now skeptical about the wilder claims made for the supposed benefits of ICT and has even been described as “the Internet’s fallen angel.”  The mix of characters and the clash of opposites should make for a thoroughly engrossing session at this fascinating new conference.

Arranged by the organizers of OEB Global, Europe’s leading conference on online learning and technology, ‘MidSummit’ is a forum for reflection and discussion about some of the most important emerging issues for education.

OEB MidSummit

June 8 – 9, 2017

Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, Suðurlandsbraut 2, 108 Reykjavik, Iceland

There will be a great deal of exciting new formats that are designed to encourage discussion and inspire free thinking in both formal and informal settings. MidSummit keynote speakers include Nell Watson (Poikos, Ireland), cognitive science and machine intelligence entrepreneur; Tony O’Driscoll (Global Head of Strategic Leadership Solutions at Duke CE, USA), expert on leadership learning; Andrew Keen (author and SalonFutureCast, USA), commentator on the digital revolution; Donald Clark (PlanB Lerning UK), blogger and EdTech entrepreneur; Audrey Watters (Hack Education, USA), education technology writer; Roger Schank (Socratic Arts & XTOL, USA), one of the world's leading visionaries in artificial intelligence. 

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