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Our 2017 Thought Leadership Programme got off to a dynamic and invigorating start with our partner Rand Europe in the unique environment of St George’s House, Windsor Castle where participants and partners came together to discuss digital technology’s role in enabling skills development for a connected world.

Representatives from Academia, Business, Government and Non-Government organisations from the UK, Europe and internationally, focussed on detailed questions of how digital can best support individuals to develop the skills needed for the digital society, which will in turn lead to the first of this year’s Thought Leadership Reports.

Held under the Chatham House rule, to enable open, honest and challenging discussion, the following issues and questions were explored:

  • How does technology challenge the educator’s role?
  • What are the core skills needed to be a citizen in a digital society?
  • Are we preparing today’s young people for the jobs of tomorrow with yesterday’s tools?
  • How can digital technology aid life-long learning for the benefit of citizens, to embed greater inclusion within Digital Society?
  • How can digital delivery channels help ensure equality of access and inclusivity to skills and education?
  • In what ways can we support an ageing population to acquire the digital skills necessary to transact in an increasingly digital world?
  • How do we build capacity within the education system to maximise the impact of digital technology?

Conference proceedings, which summarise the key findings and ideas from our discussions, will be published in due course and available from our website. In the interim, closing remarks on behalf of the participants included:

  • Digital technology offers an amazing opportunity to extend learning opportunities and citizens should give themselves the permission to fully participate in such opportunities in support of both social mobility and life-long learning;
  • Delivering education and learning through digital channels cannot deliver benefits on its own. We need to have a more compelling narrative for education and learning in general and how digital technology can support the learner more effectively, to encourage greater participation;
  • Delivering education and learning through digital technology faces a number of challenges, including resistance from more traditional institutions but also in terms of inclusion. The use of new technologies can extend audience reach and tackle issues of inclusion, but it also has the potential to extend the gap between those who participate in learning and those who are at risk of being excluded;
  • The use of digital technology to deliver education and learning is disrupting what we see as the traditional role of the educator.  There is a need to discuss more openly how this role should evolve if we are to maximise the benefits of digital technology in learning environments;
  • Businesses as employers, who are looking to develop their workforce should take a lead in terms of developing platforms and tools, using technology to enable digital learning for the benefit of everyone;
  • Automation and the use of artificial intelligence has great potential in the area of education and learning, especially in terms of assessment and accreditation, as well as in areas such as continuous professional development and compliance assurance.  The technology and its use in learning environments is not however well understood.

These are just some of the headline conclusions from our discussions on Education and the potential role which digital technology might play in delivering the skills needed for a more connected world.

Our 2017 Thought Leadership Programme continues with the next event in April focusing on the opportunities and challenges that digital technology is creating for Open Science.  Other themes we have planned for this year include Currency in a digital world and Civic Engagement.

To follow comments from the events on Twitter as they happen please search for the hashtag #digitalsociety, or if you’d like any more information, please email Brian Parry, our Director of Strategy and Thought Leadership, on BParry@corshaminstitute.org.

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