Reflections: London Tech Week 2020

Adoption, Ethics, and Exchange

Employers are expecting to be part of the solution in upskilling and reskilling staff. 

Blog Post by Mahreen Ferdous, Project Account Manager for Ufi VocTech Trust

I had largely been avoiding online conferences with the expectation that they will be back in person soon. With that still looking unlikely I decided to bite the bullet and join London Tech Week 2020. It covered the whole gambit of tech innovations and, from a Ufi lens, the Future of Work stream nailed it for me. 

The fast-tracking of adoption of a variety of technology into education and work-based learning was palpable. The willingness to work with technology for better learner outcomes has shifted across organisations.

There is a desire to learn from early adopter countries like Denmark and China from their successes and concerns. One concern is monitoring without a clear understanding of how such monitoring will be used - this highlights the importance of a focus on learning outcomes as well as refining the pedagogy for online learning to allow monitoring that is useful in the context. 

The ethical quandary presented by technology adoption raised important questions on ensuring access for all, otherwise risking raising inequality for the digitally savvy and digitally skint. The concerns were overshadowed by the enthusiasm for new use cases that have already started to emerge through greater adoption.

Video and audio-based feedback which allows quicker and more detailed suggestions is promising to stay long term. Another area of innovation is spotting and addressing mental health concerns among learners, still an area that requires testing and trialling.

New ways of working for exchange programmes such as the ERASMUS were highlighted. This area can expect to have an innovative format in the future, decoupled from location. This can also create a model for apprenticeships in the UK, so watch the space. 

Learning beyond educational institutions is only expected to increase and the employers are expecting to be part of the solution in upskilling and reskilling staff. 

Following the London Tech Week, virtual conferences, I hope, are here to stay. They have some clear advantages in terms of choosing content and getting to the information fast. I managed to join the session on the AI Mayflower – the machine-learning self-navigating ship – unlikely to have made the list if it involved a trek across to ExCel London to attend.

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