Academic Digital

NEWS from #digifest14

“The digital future is going to be bigger than the digital past” says Jisc chief executive at future-gazing event

Speaking at the close of the two-day Jisc Digital Festival Jisc’s chief executive, Martyn Harrow highlighted the organisation’s continued support in enhancing digital capabilities within the education and research communities.


In its inaugural year, the Jisc Digital Festival drew together 132 speakers from the sector to share best practice on a number of topics focused on enriching student experience and boosting research excellence. In addition to speaker-led sessions and workshops, the event offered an exhibition showcasing the practical teaching and research applications of technologies including augmented reality, 3D printing and cloud computing.

The event which has already been confirmed for March 2015, gained huge participation with an online audience, attracting over 16,000 tweets and #digifest14 trending in the UK. Online participants who logged on to watch the live stream of the event represented countries including Japan, Canada and South Africa.

Supporting Martyn Harrow’s assertion that the best of digital is yet to come, keynote speaker Diana Oblinger, CEO of EDUCAUSE said: “My talk was designed to try and make people understand that although we have been using digital technology, we maybe haven’t designed our systems in a way that is truly digital, and that is the next frontier for us. Engagement is a fundamental value for learners, and there are many ways of using digital technology to enhance engagement; whether it is a simulation, games or visualisation. Digital technology promotes a deeper understanding.”

In her address, Diana also addressed the pertinent issue of higher education using data activity to monitor ‘at risk’ students and intervening with personalised support to avoid them failing their degree programme.

Other keynote addresses were delivered by City University London’s vice chancellor, Paul Curran and educationalist Sugata Mitra, who shared the success of his Schools in the Cloud experiment. Also presenting at the Jisc Digital Festival was futurologist Ray Hammond, who spoke about need to create a language of the future and how educators and researchers were in the privileged position to drive innovation and shape the digital future.

Summing up Jisc’s commitment to enhancing digital technology use, Martyn Harrow said: “Digital technology is the core, and what you can do with it is the core subject matter of the Digital Festival. It is the fastest growing, most powerful tool to enhance human organisational performance and it can do that for individuals, for teams for groups, nationally and internationally.

“The role of Jisc is quite simply to help UK education and research across the nations and the sectors that we serve, really harness and exploit the potential of technology and the fast developing capabilities of that technology for the advantage of colleges and universities. We’re at the start of the digital age, the digital future is going to be bigger than the digital past and we have to go there if we’re to keep up with that game and turn it to our advantage.”

To view the live stream of the event for free visit the Jisc website.