The Edtech Podcast Festival 2018 – review

Peter Lillington, London CLC teaching and learning consultant, shares his highlights of the first Edtech Podcast Festival.

Sophie Bailey, the voice behind the popular and well regarded EdTech podcast, has long had a dream to bring together listeners and contributors, educators and edtech companies in a festival of ideas. The result was the Edtech Podcast Festival, which took place last month.

London CLC was delighted to be represented at the event in the Plexal Here East innovation centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Despite the drizzle your roving reporter had a great time listening, chatting, doing and making. I didn’t take up the option of a lunchtime canoe ride or mindfulness session but touches like this and many other details (such as a bookshop from Wellcome) made it an event with a real buzz and a cut above the average.

Highlights included being taken back to the Stone Age through the medium of sound.  A company called now>press>play has been producing audio materials for schools for some time using binaural headphones that are managed by the teacher. Other attendees were agog to see a group of adults (in the willing role of students) miming lighting a fire, fending off wolves and hunkering down behind a boulder (ie chair). It really felt like you were there (with interesting research mentioned on how children experience aural as opposed to visual input in a vivid way) and would be a great experiential foundation for writing and other learning. I’m interested to find out more about their online safety scenario, to help students envisage making choices when something feels not right.

I also enjoyed trying out some of the brand new WeDo Maker activities from Lego. It was interesting to discover that our collaborative task included materials and objects other than Lego, along with a nice musical theme. Could we create and program some kind of instrument or sound making machine and then form a band?

Imperial College Makerspace colleagues imparted their tips for getting underway with 3D printing and other making with students with useful practical advice about how to get started.

UCL colleagues from educate – the leading research and business training programme for EdTech startups in London – provided top level intellectual discourse at a moment before my morning coffee had taken full effect so I look forward to pondering their stimulating questions on how schools, educators and academics, edtech companies can all work together to produce the most effective tools for learners.

I feel sure we will be increasingly offered learning platforms incorporating machine learning and AI for benefit of pupils, teachers and parents, so it was fascinating to hear about Century Tech, a fairly recent newcomer to the education sector offering personalisation through AI at secondary and upper primary.

Lovely also to hear from a fellow Apple regional training centre with refreshing insight on how to cut teacher workload. For example, does every member of staff physically need to attend every item of every staff meeting; how can collaborative planning and tools help (with Google docs or other platforms); and what about marking? Thanks Rory (@rjmgteach).

Last but definitely not least, in fact first, the whole event got an inspiring lift-off keynote from Dr Jess Wade – check out her extensive online activity (including 300 Wikipedia articles to start to redress the balance for female/male ‘famous scientist’ known at large).

I, for one, will be delighted if this event is repeated, and hope that it becomes an annual occurrence – we’d like to be there at the next one showcasing our unique London CLC blend, perhaps with our partner schools too.

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