eXperience Asia Day 3 Highlights

Published: Monday 31 July 2017

eXperience Asia’s final day delivered the inspiring, the challenging and the unforgettable.

Starting with Dr Soon Joo Gog from the Skills Future Singapore Agency, we learned more about the incredible work Singapore is doing to promote learning as a lifelong endeavour. Recognising that the world of work is changing so rapidly, this initiative, supported by the Ministry of Education, brings together a wealth of adult education training bodies and private education providers to ensure people have the opportunity to train and retrain regularly.

Following on from this discussion on the needs of people to reskill and upskill to remain working within our society, was a mind-expanding discussion from Ayesha Khanna of ADDO AI on how the very fabric of our human-centred society is set for rapid and immediate change. Khanna introduced us sharply to the new world that is coming our way with the increasing influence of technology in our lives. From infiltrating physical factory-style industries decades ago, technology is now evolving with Artificial Intelligence taking over other industries like law, teaching, nursing and journalism.

With the ability to prevent and treat diseases increasing the average life expectancy, 3D printing of body parts and organs, and genetic editing increasing ‘successful’ human characteristics, what, Khanna asks, will happen to people?

Many universities are currently bridging the gaps between the developed and developing worlds with their openly available online courses and industry is following suit with practical learning nanocourses. As always, the skills that make us uniquely human such as creative problem solving, people management, empathy, emotional intelligence, judgement and passion are the skills that will be more highly prized in our future learners as they work within this technology-rich world.

I had been looking forward to hearing from our final keynote, Sugata Mitra for months, and he did not disappoint. First learning about his work at a Mayfield Project presentation at the 2010 regional conference, I was keen to see how his perspective on education had changed in the intervening time. For those that are not aware of his work with the Hole in the Wall, the School in the Cloud, and the Granny Cloud, I recommend getting acquainted with his TED talks for a few hours.

From humble beginnings studying student behaviour by placing a simple computer in an Indian slum wall, Mitra has continued to investigate the potential of children to learn through their natural curiosity and collaborative spirit. His research on students creating Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs) to solve the UnGoogleable questions challenges assumptions about the role of education and teachers, as students find answers and make connections utilising all of the world’s information at a touch of the fingertips. Mitra believes education make take on different roles in our future societies, such as developing ethics and morals, and allowing students to live happy, healthy, productive lives.

It was heartening that so many of the presenters we heard from over the conference were using the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as their springboards and markers to assess progress.

Rather than a local or even community focus, most organisations were looking much further afield as to how to prevent global crises of poverty, maternal health, primary education and environmental instability. This attitude of being part of a larger educational impact and understanding your place in the world is a great reflection on our organisation – working together to create better spaces where people learn, all over the world.

This year’s conference seemed to have a different energy to previous years’, with a stronger focus on the role of education as an industry changing people’s lives and the places in which it occurs. This conference encouraged me to think about the myriad of different educational opportunities throughout the world, and how this is going to change in a fast-paced future. The impact of change on the spaces of billions of people so willing to learn, without requirements for physical learning space, is a challenge we are going to need to face.

Although perhaps finishing with more ideas to investigate further than answers, I left the conference engaged, optimistic and enthused about the diverse and challenging industry we are in, and the future opportunities it affords.

Check out Day 1 and Day 2 highlights.

Dani Martin, WA Chapter Chair

Photos by Troy Glover, Chris Bradbeer, Raechel French, Bill Dixon, Bella Bower.