For those well versed in the world of edtech, Digifest has become an annual must-attend event in the calendar. Taking place at the ICC in Birmingham on 14-15 March, the festival celebrates the power of digital to revolutionise learning and teaching; a coming together of insights, ideas and inspiration, it’s very much about the connections people make between each other, as much as the connections between education and technology.
For 2017, the festival’s themes draw experts from across the sectors to discuss four key areas: digital content and resources, data and learning analytics, digital (and physical) spaces, and digital skills. All topics secured a firm place in both the political and media agenda of 2016. A survey carried out by Jisc showed that students’ digital know-how is hugely influenced by how their teachers and lecturers interact with the latest tech that’s on offer, and how well this is integrated into the learning design.
Jisc Futurist, Martin Hamilton, who took part in a recent Education Technology roundtable on upcoming trends explained why these themes made the grade; “Our members face a range of challenges, whether higher or further education establishments or skills providers, there are some key themes that unite them as educators. There is a wealth of digital content and apps available, but cutting through the hype to find out what can really support learning outcomes is what Digifest is all about. We’re also seeing a lot of interest in the impact that both physical and virtual environments can have on teaching and learning. The data shows that even small changes can have a significant impact on learning outcomes – this is a really exciting part of this year’s programme.”
Alongside the full agenda of speakers and workshops, the exhibitor space gives delegates an opportunity to ask questions about how to transform their own institutions through the emerging technology that’s available, and affordable, to the sector.
One new-kid-on-the-block exhibiting this year is Know it Wall, a previous winner of Jisc’s Summer of Student Innovation competition. The start-up came together to transform a particular problem – how to create a one-stop shop for public outreach in academia. Researchers who are interested in getting their work out into the wider world simply write a summary piece for Know it Wall, and the start-up take care of the rest; creating audio-visual, easily accessible content that connects to people outside the sphere of academia to the exciting discoveries made within.
This year’s Digifest includes the opportunity for delegates to vote on their favourite new tech solution, with Jisc’s edtech start-up competition.
Ten startups will be chosen to pitch to the audience, in a bid to get through to the next round. Once through, the winning startups will enter a six month ‘accelerator programme’, where they will receive mentoring business support. There will also be a chance to pitch to Jisc (and other potential investors) for support packages and investment to become successful edtech products. Previous startups supported by Jisc have set out to solve numerous sector issues with their innovative ideas.
Angus Waite, Founder of Know it Wall said, of last year’s Summer of Student Innovation competition, “It’s exciting as well as hard work. It’s fun as well as challenging, but, above all, it will give you a platform upon which you can grow your idea, and in the process, you’ll learn a great deal”.
To register for your free place at Digifest on 14-15 March, head to the Jisc homepage, www.jisc.ac.uk, and fill out the online form.