The digital revolution and lifelong learning

I have been to 4 conferences in the last few weeks:

Digital Engagement

Public Library Authority Conference

Leading Innovation: Embracing Technology

European Congress on E-inclusion

I saw some people using this new presentation tool ‘Prezi‘ so like a good lifelong learner, I decided to give it a try! This presentation is a summary of some of the key points I gleaned from these conferences.

I’ve tried to embed this prezi here but it’s not working (if you know how to do that in wordpress please let me know!)

Follow this link to view the prezi:

If the prezi makes you feel a little queasy here are the 7 main themes which came out of the conferences I attended:

Don't be afraid

Breaking boundaries

The digital revolution is blurring boundaries. The boundary between work and play is very blurred now. We are using business tools such as mobile phones, and computers for entertainment (see the rise of the BBC iplayer) as well as work. This is not bad, it’s just a new way of working and being. Think of your working hours. Very few people work 9-5 anymore. Because of email and BlackBerrys (-ies?) many of us find ourselves watching a youtube video at 9pm and then popping over and checking our work email.

Take part

People that 6 months ago were digital refuseniks are beginning to cotton on to the fact that something’s going on that they can’t ignore. Overwhelmingly at all 4 conferences, there was an acknowledgement that the challenge of ubiquitous technology is only going to get greater and we ignore it further at our peril.


One of the characteristics of web 2.0 is collaboration. Open Source Software is on the increase and is a gift to the public and charity sectors. Unfortunately, the culture change required to collaborate and share more is happening slowly. There are still many colleges, for example, developing their own systems, learning materials and so on where if they collaborated with another college they could save so much time and energy. Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) shouldn’t be closed shops anymore. Another challenge is coming from universities who are part of the open educational resources or open courseware movement. There is a real shift taking place, and those not willing to share and collaborate will be left behind.

Driving seat

It is not educationalists who are driving the current ‘learning revolution’ it is the social media itself. Facebook, Twitter, Google etc. are effecting the change, not teachers and lecturers.

Go outside!

A clear message from one of the conferences was ‘go outside!’ This is connected to the theme of collaboration and partnership working. If we don’t ‘go outside’ we will surely be left behind. The other point to make about going outside is that we must go where our audience is. If they are on Facebook, have a presence on Facebook. There is a recent example of Gloucester College doing just that here.


Technology can no longer be seen as an ‘optional extra’. It is core to learning. Just as we no longer talk about ‘book learning’ we soon will no longer talk about ‘e-learning’ – it’s all about the learning, technology is just a medium through which we can learn. One of the sessions at Leading Innovation: Embracing Technology was about writing an ILT strategy – most of us said, “you shouldn’t need an ILT strategy anymore – it’s just a learning strategy!”


At the moment, though, we are in a period of adolescence with our attitude to digital technology, it’s awkward and uncomfortable and we need to find ways to make our transition to ‘adulthood’ as smooth as possible!

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