International ed tech and pedagogical projects: notes from INTED 2017

This past week I attended the INTED conference in Valencia, Spain.  After kicking things off with a keynote, I had the opportunity to participate in all sessions, which I appreciate.

(That’s something I really like doing; I hate keynoters who parachute in to talk, then vanish.  A key part of my speaking work is spending as much time interacting with people as possible.  That benefits both myself and the client and the community involved, I think.)

I’d like to write some reflections here for two reasons.  First, INTED was easily the most transnational conference for education that I’ve ever attended.  Participants were from Europe, of course, but also Africa (north and subsaharan), Asia (central, east), the Americas (north, central, southern), and the Middle East (including Arab nations, Israel, and Iran).  As one Twitter observer noted about a session I co-paneled:

. and debate with delegates coming from Botswana, Kazajistan, Portuagal, Singapur, Canada, Qatar…

And the magnificent Vicky Colbert is from Columbia, where she’s busy revolutionizing teaching poor rural kids.

This is way beyond any event I’ve seen in the US, and more representative than anything I’ve experienced in Europe.  And this globalism is essential for any consideration of the future of education, as I’ve been saying for years.

Bryan interviewed at INTED

New suit, since Air Europa lost my luggage for a few days.

Second, it was fascinating to see the variety of projects and ideas in play.  So many trends.  I’ll pull out some here.

Gaming: many examples of people using games for learning, or gamification for public good (public health, for one).  One researcher is exploring games as content for fine arts classes and research.  There was a hands-on game-making session I’m sorry I missed.

Social media: various projects making use of it, including having students write to Twitter in a new language, or inviting Chinese students in another country to use WeChat to improve their morale.

MOOCs: simply present in the ed tech space, without the hype crash America experienced.  Interesting studies and projects, from using MOOCs on mobile devices to former colonies accessing courses created by their prior colonizers.

Mobile: as usual, pretty much every country is in advance of what American education is doing.  Some similar problems, though, with different levels of mobile access (network and device).

Speaking of mobile, I met the delightful Gunnar Stefansson, who was showing his Education in a Suitcase project.  This basically builds out a computer classroom on the fly, for people lacking both internet access and devices.  The center is a small hard drive, crammed with math content and a Wikipedia download, plus a WiFi dongle.  Gunnar hauls around 20 or so low-cost (i.e., Android) tablets, and has successfully used this in various remote locations in Kenya.  Bravo!

Gunnar and Education in a Suitcase

Digital storytelling: not as much as in the US, possibly because American education tends to be more constructivist.  But there was a good class from Jakarta State University, and a cool Israeli project having students make stories with Plotagon – interestingly, they needed no IT support to do so.  Plotagon is easy, and the students used their smartphones.

Demographics: there was a multi-nation two-hour sequence on teaching technology to seniors.  As I’ve been saying.

Outside of the conference, I was struck by a powerful instance of analog teaching technology.  It was in front of the Valencia Cathedral, and seemed to be a scale model of that edifice:

Valencia model for the blind

Looking closer, I saw the model was made of metal – copper? – and wasn’t protected from weather or tourists.  I could touch it.

Next to that model, I found another metal object covered in text – in braille.

Valencia braille sign

I can’t read braille, and can’t tell who built it or when, but I inferred that this was an exhibit designed to explain the cathedral to people with visual impairments.  Excellent.

Back to the conference: there was also a great deal of anxiety about the United States under trump.


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5 Responses to International ed tech and pedagogical projects: notes from INTED 2017

  1. Amy Pate says:

    Could you share the contact for the “One researcher is exploring games as content for fine arts classes and research”? It’s something I’d like to share with one of the faculty at ASU.


    Amy L. Pate
    Instructional Design and Technology Coordinator
    School of Life Sciences
    Arizona State University
    Office: LSC 426B
    Phone: 480.965.1033
    LinkedIn Profile
    TeachTech Blog

    • Amy, the researcher is Andrés Vlad Doménech Alcaide.
      In his presentation he described applying a variety of fine arts disciplines to gaming, such as dance (think of DDR), painting (game backgrounds and characters), sculpture (3d modeling), music (soundtracks), and literature (game-based storytelling).

  2. Hi Bryan
    The model and plaque are likely bronze. With a beautiful patina!
    A quick search turned up a bronze of the entire city of Lyon.
    Did you learn what they call flatiron buildings in Seville?
    Best regards

  3. Amazing article, we should always work to make education fun for students. This will be helpful in making a longer impact on their mind about the realities and facts of the world. Good Work!!!

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