Berlin (GER), December 2018 - Astrid Jaeger, the Director of OEB Global - which now includes Learning Technologies Germany - said, "We’ve had three days of gazing into the future. It’s been really fascinating. We had a great opening session with Geoff Mulgan, Bryan Caplan, and Anita Scholl Brede. We’ve brought people from all over the world to Berlin to look at how education and training are being changed by technology and at how technology is changing the world. These changes are already having an enormous effect, and the pace of change is going to continue to quicken."
"The way we live our lives, the way we work, and the way we learn are all changing. At OEB Global, which has established itself as Europe’s leading conference in this sector, we’ve had experts in all sorts of disciplines looking at what is going to happen in the home, the classroom, and the workplace. The consensus is that the future is very different, and it is already here."
One trend that was evident at OEB Global was recognition of the growth of artificial intelligence (AI). With presentations on the subject by speakers from universities and technology companies as far afield as Texas and China, it was clear that the role of AI in learning and training is set to increase.
"There is no doubt that AI is going to play a huge part in education in the future," says Jaeger. "Learning will become much more focussed and intense. In a world in which machines increasingly replace human beings in many industries, AI will also be a major part of new learning opportunities."
Not everyone is looking to the future with confidence, though. "There are big opportunities ahead, but at the moment, there’s a lot of anxiety, too,” said one participant. “People are worried about the future. They don’t like uncertainty, and whilst they can get a better view of what’s coming here at OEB, there’s still a lot of concern about issues such as cyber security, fake news, and the misuse of data."
Elliott Masie, Head of the Masie Center in the USA, found it reassuring that, in addition to the discussions about big issues such as AI, there was also a focus at OEB on "fixing the little things."
"I thought it was very noticeable that there were lots of presentations and exhibitions on things like plagiarism and improving the use of video in presentations," he said. "OEB is not just about the big vision of the future. It’s also about the practicalities of the present."
Ms Jaeger concedes that there are anxieties, but remains confident about the future: "Overall, people are very positive and excited about the change that is already happening. They can see the potential for real improvements in the future. Participants at OEB tend to be people who believe that technology can solve problems. That’s why they’re here. They’re innovators and solutions providers, as well as educators. OEB is all about seeing change and adapting to it."
The OEB Global conference, which took place at Berlin’s Hotel Intercontinental, 05-07 December, was accompanied by an exhibition of products, services, and solutions. "With 111 exhibitors, this year’s exhibition was bigger than ever, and it was full of companies and organisations offering all sorts of imaginative new products. You can get a view of the future just by going round the stalls!"