This has been the week of BETT 2016, the ‘world’s leading learning technology event’ according to the blurb, held at the gigantic Excel exhibition centre in London. I would say its main focus is really the schools sector, although there have been specific themed speakers and events for HE and FE too. The several thousand delegates came from all over the UK and Europe, and it was interesting to hear about learning technology developments in France and elsewhere.
I was there for one day only, having been invited to speak as part of a panel session on ‘Moving away from traditional lectures: Incorporating blended learning and flipped classroom models’. The session was well attended and there were lots of questions around embedding blended and flipped learning, measuring success, and the impact on students to highlight just a few. Strategy and policy were also mentioned. We don’t have a separate strategy for blended learning at GCU as we see it as a core aspect of all learning and teaching. It is however a key priority in our Strategy for Learning, and an annual operational plan sets targets for digital learning (now including online developments), allowing progress to be monitored. We also gather examples of innovative practice to showcase here in this blog, on our WillItBlend site in Coursesites (open to all but initial sign up required), and through our regular face to face Blended Learning Coffee Club sessions. There are also support resources for staff, including for online developments, under the Staff Help tab in GCULearn.
BETT 2016 was exhilarating, exhausting and inspiring, with lots of suppliers touting gadgets, ideas and new, swishy applications. It highlighted for me the ‘big business’ that learning technology has become, but at the same time reminded me that creative and evidence-based approaches to embedding technology in learning and teaching are more important than ever.