What we learnt at the Scottish Learning Festival

Those of you who follow our Twitter feed may have seen some of the exciting goings on at Scotland’s biggest education event last month – the Scottish Learning Festival at Glasgow’s SECC.

We were there along with our partner, Tablet Academy Scotland, where we spoke to hundreds – if not thousands – of education professionals about education, technology and how they can work together to improve educational outcomes in three key areas:

  • Local partnerships and collaboration – to share approaches that lead to better outcomes
  • Self-evaluation – to ensure creative and innovative approaches to sustained improvement
  • Work-related learning – to improve transitions into sustainable productive employment

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One big hit with the whole festival was technology and gaming entrepreneur Chris van der Kuyl’s keynote: Raising the Digital Generation in Scotland. This sent Twitter abuzz, and with good reason.

In it, he reflected on the booming digital industry in Scotland. This is in fact true for the whole UK, but, there’s currently a huge shortfall in young people coming out of education to fill these jobs. As we’ve mentioned on this blog before, by 2020 there will be a need for a further 300,000 workers in the digital sector. Chris said: “If we can build an innovation culture right into the heart of everything we do in education we give every child in Scotland the chance to not just be digitally literate, but digitally creative, and part of some of the most exciting industries the world’s ever seen.” The key word here is creative. Teaching digital skills is great, but encouraging digital creativity means young people are equipped to go into industries like gaming, web, design and software development with the ideas, as well as the skills to put them into practice.

It seems you agree, too. Throughout the two-day event we asked those visiting our stand, quite simply: “How could technology be used better in the classroom.”

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(Thanks to Emma Boyd for this snap)

Digital creativity was a topic that came up several times. We also saw lots of people asking for better training for teachers. Chris said it best in his talk: “Tech will never replace teachers, but teachers who use tech effectively will replace those who do not.” Ed tech has had some bad press recently and it’s good to see people like Chris spreading the message that it’s not what you’ve got – but how you use it that counts, as this visitor knows:

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You also asked about inter-school collaboration. This is something we often see at schools we visit like St Joseph’s Catholic Primary in Goole, who are using their new innovation hub to upskill not just their own pupils, but pupils from other schools and the wider community. If you’d like more ideas about connecting with other schools, check out the post we did earlier this year on breaking out of the classroom.

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So thanks to everyone we met at SLF. Thanks to Education Scotland for organising it and to Tablet Academy Scotland for sharing your stand with us.

See you next year!

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