Digital Technology is something that many of us have been working with for some time. We realize the benefits for education and have developed knowledge and understanding about how we can make the best use of this for education and research. I have just been speaking at the Maghreb Digital Learning and Innovation Conference in Tunis, Tunisia with the British Council and 100 enthusiastic interested academic staff, students, policy makers, social entrepreneurs and international technology experts all eager and enthused about doing the same thing within their countries.
The conference aimed to provide a number of outcomes for the people of Maghreb, essentially it was about bringing people together and, as the British Council pointed out, ‘Create opportunity’. The days were fully packed with a variety of talks and inspirational speakers which were all designed to provide the delegates with ideas and solutions to the problems that they faced in their own countries. One of the biggest takeaways from the conference for me was the huge amount of good will and camaraderie within the room. Each table was allocated to specific delegates and we were placed there in order to support each other over the days of the conference. Each table was given a ‘Team Challenge’ and on the final day we were to present our solution in a Dragons Den type activity. The winner would win a lovely British Council Innovation Award and their ideas would be presented at a Maghreb policy forum by a member of the British Council in January. As leader of Digital Literacies in the Institute for Learning Innovation and Development at the University of Southampton, I was to support ideas and prompt our team to think innovatively and work together on our challenge.
My table (Team 7) included senior leaders, advisers and policy makers for their countries. Our challenge over the three days was to present a roadmap for introducing the UNESCOICT Competences for teachers in Higher Education. This was actually more fun than it sounds and in terms of creating a community the idea of team challenges was an brilliant way of ensuring that we all worked together for a common goal. Throughout the conference as we listened to the talks we could see how they may fit into what we were going to be presenting at the end of the conference.
I spoke about engaging with educators and students through the Champions model that we have been developing at Southampton and I introduced the idea of awarding Open Badges for staff development and for student development to encourage participation with the UNESCO ICT Competences. Others also took ideas into their own challenges and that was very rewarding, as it showed that the conference actually made a difference, and the ideas weren’t wasted.
Overall it has been a great experience to be part of such enthusiasm and willingness to get involved and bring digital literacies and skills to the Maghreb region. There is certainly scope for further development and engagement for ALT as a community of expertise and for Universities in the UK who have great academics and can really inspire and support the adoption of technology for education.