Inveterate dabbler in business, travel, gadgets & life

The Future of Education at #svc2uk

Tonight the annual Silicon Valley comes to Cambridge event kicked of with a session on the Future of Education.

Six panelists outlined their vision of educations future in ten minutes or so each, I captured the audio and made rough notes using my LiveScribe pen. The full commentary is now live here. My take on the speakers is:-

First up was the Cambridge Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz who mentioned the Catch22 the University was in regarding the so called Grand Challenge funding method the Government is proposing with such funding being at the expense of many small grants. I was also surprised that they are not increasing undergraduate numbers only PhD’s and Post Docs.

Next up was Greg Joswiak Apple’s iPod and iPhone marketing czar, who surprisingly wasn’t happy about giving a talk without slides, he at to use his iPad instead. Main fact is that in 18months more iPad’s are now in education in the USA than regular computers. Another fact was the huge number of educational apps and their volumes . The Open university app has had about 40 million downloads.

Next was the impressive Raj Kapoor an excellent speaker who left you feeling energised and that things have already changed with companies like LiveMocha in language (over 1 billion folks want or need to learn English). Voxy offering contextural English learning (In a Doctors will teach medical terms, at a station travel terms). and ClassDojo to help with motivating kids in the classroom (1/2 million downloads in first 6 weeks!). Also spoke about the degree mills in the USA and boundless learning. Plus the amazing celebrity professors in Korea who have become brands in their own right! All very exciting and vibrant.

Reid Hoffman of linkedIn fame was next mentioning that education was currently in a bubble with a poor return on investment and that people should be asking what is the taget of education. Interesting analogy was between teaching sports and entrepreneurship. You can learn the rules but it won’t make you a great player. He also mentioned the great success of the Khan Academy in reaching out to students in a non orthodox way. Another insight was that with online learning spending $5-30million dollars can help to educate tens of millions of people.

Joi Ito then started saying he was a double college drop out! and in his new role as Director at the MIT media lab he has students asking him why should they continue 🙂 His reply is that if it was there he would have stayed. They have emphasis on Construction not Instruction and the importance on learning to think in an era of abundance of information.

Finally we had Rohan Silva emphasising just how geeky our latest government is  and how they intend to digitise our public services. Apparently in the next few weeks a major new government Initiative is going to be launched on teaching coding in schools. (I wonder if it will use the new £15 Rasberry Pi computer 🙂 )

Ironically I’m afraid I had to dash off before the questions to attend to grand parent duties as the parents were due for a parents evening.

As an experiment here are my notes and audio stream (clicking on the text will take you to that section of the audio):

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Cambridge -UK – Open Coffee

Jed at OpenCoffee

Just back from the inaugural OpenCoffee meet up in Cambridge, UK. Organised by Jed. The event was in Cafe Nero on Kings Parade in Cambridge. A total of about 20 folks (Only two from the fairer sex, Juliette and ? Laura where did you get too!)  turned up. I was, of cause, easily the oldest there!

It was a good turn out of VC’s, Angels and entrepreneurs with a lot of new faces to prove that the Cambridge scene is still as vibrant as ever. I met Chris from audioanalytic, Adriano? of Hotprints, Peter from Broadersheet plus Laurence & Alex.

Pretty ideal for a first event and actually worked very well in the regular coffee shop environment (apart from getting told to sit down once by the baristas). I quite like the slightly anarchic nature of the event compared to the regular structured evenings that are the norm around here, and it works better than in a pub type environment in my opinion. I can see why the coffee places were so popular in the 1700s

Will be interesting to see where it goes from here. Apparently there is another newish event, CamCreative next week at The Arts so will go and compare and contrast.

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Computing the future

Computingfor the future - Andy Hopper

Interesting talk by Andy Hopper tonight on Computing the future.

I especially liked his comments on setting projects for his PhD students. they have to be more advanced than what Google or Microsoft are doing but not totally science fiction stuff – A hard job these days I reckon.

Other interesting points was that 2-3% of the worlds energy is consumed by server farms. So the proposal is to put the server farms by the windmills and solar plants since data is so cheap to transmit.  Servers need to get more intelligent so that they run closer to 100% utilisation (rather than current 30%) by switching themselves off etc.

He forsees the world running on simple low power terminals. Yep. bring back  the Wyse50’s 🙂  But more likely to be mobile phones! Especially after his trip to Soweto to see how they are using phones there.

Also discussed the idea that every moving object would have a sensor hooked into a vast database so your phone could be measuring CO2 etc.

Digital Alternatives

A revealing chart showing global hectares available per person and current usage levels with the USA standing out as usual.

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