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Integrated Systems Events Managing Director, Mike Blackman, on technology in education and the impact it is having on ISE.
It’s been quite a few years since I finished my academic education to embark on a career in exhibitions and conferences, but thanks to a strong connection with the AV industry, I’m aware of the way technology is helping to facilitate learning practices in today’s classrooms and lecture theatres.
Gone are the days where AV in an educational establishment meant an overhead or even slide projector. If you were lucky you might even have had a Kodascope 8 or 16mm film projector. In 1984 when I ran the Personal Computer World Exhibition (anyone remember that?) with an Orwellian look forward, we ventured to run a feature called ‘The Classroom of the Future’ with computers replacing text books. There was no worldwide web, the machines weren’t even networked but it was something that everyone saw as a new way to teach and it was advanced and created food for thought amongst the teaching community that we managed to attract.
While technology isn’t necessarily the sole reason for some of today’s innovative teaching techniques, it is certainly supporting many of them. This trend has been mirrored at the show, where the presence of education-related technology and activities continues to grow.
I’m genuinely intrigued by the various ways that education is delivered in today’s technologically rich world. Through speaking to manufacturers and suppliers of equipment, and to teaching staff from primary, higher and further education, I understand that it is a very exciting time to be in education. I also understand that the speed of progress in recent years has been overwhelming for some. But, overall, I think teaching methods like flipped and blended learning, and tools like lecture capture are very positive.
I’m particularly enthusiastic about collaboration. It’s a something that can be as effective in education as it is in the workplace, while the technologies that support it are the same wherever it is prevalent. As an organisation, we are dotted around Europe and have major stakeholders in the US, yet we place a lot of emphasis on collaborative work. That means using conferencing technology, virtual meeting software, screens and sharing infrastructures to ensure there is a seamless and on-going creative process. We remotely gather as a team or in pockets of people, often spanning departments, to harness the benefits of collaboration. We work on the old mantra that two (three, four, five or six) heads are better than one.
Of course, in the learning environment business goals become learning objectives, but the premise is the same. More can be achieved when students collaborate; the learning outcomes can be more developed and more deeply engrained.
I know technology designers and providers recognise the rising importance that technology has in education and are reacting with products and solutions. We’ve seen some big companies and long-term ISE exhibitors that have either expanded their business or have re-aligned their offer to reach the education market.
The demands of tech-savvy students are driving investments in state of-the-art AV technology – technology that must cater to a broad set of needs. AV technology no longer a luxury, it is very much considered a must-have.
Whilst you wont be seeing a ‘Classroom of the Future’ at ISE 2017, you will see some outstanding products and solutions for education. We already have educational buying groups attending the show. The new edtech hall will consolidate these things and help them to grow further, while simultaneously helping attendees who are focused on this sector to embark on a more coherent ISE journey.