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Exploring another reality using technology

The International Baccalaureate (IB) will be hosting its annual European Education Festival in Warsaw, Poland on 19 – 20 March 2020 under the theme of Leading and Learning in the 21st Century, with a special focus on ‘‘Inspire, Innovate, Integrate’’.

Professor Pierre Dillenbourg will deliver a keynote on learning environments at the 2020 European Education Festival.
Professor Pierre Dillenbourg will deliver a keynote on learning environments at the 2020 European Education Festival.

Prof. Pierre Dillenbourg, Full Professor of the Computer-Human Interaction Lab for Learning & Instruction, at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, will be one of our keynote speakers. Ahead of the festival next year, Prof. Dillenbourg introduces us to the topic of his keynote session: learning environments and learning technologies.

1. How would you describe the ideal learning environment and what learning technologies would be used?

“Most school leaders are looking for the perfect solution for an ideal learning environment, and they believe that this comes in the form of just one solution. In fact, the perfect solution is made up of an ecosystem of tools and platforms – these can be digital and non-digital. There is a plethora of tools available, all of which are diverse in their nature – the key point is that, to be successful, the ecosystem needs to be interconnected, and the tools and platforms have to work together, not in competition with each other.”

2. What are the potential learning gains from integrating technology into classroom activities?

“It is important to note that learning gains in a classroom are not a product of integrating technology, but of the learning activities themselves. It’s true that technology can enable a richer set of learning activities, but it is up to the teacher to guide this learning. For example, by simply introducing educational robots into the classroom, the learning gain is zero. However, what teachers ask students to do with the educational robots determines the learning gain – whether that is writing a piece of code or applying code to make the robots perform a specific operation.”

3. In your opinion, what can help teachers teach well without letting technology take over the classroom?

“The mass introduction of technology has made teaching more difficult – and sometimes it can be seen as the enemy. Some technology features make classroom orchestration more difficult, and in my session, I will explain what features should be taken into consideration when choosing learning technologies which will help teachers teach well.”

4. How do you think learning technologies can address the conference theme: ‘Inspire, Innovate, Integrate’?

“Technology can truly inspire students, and it gives them the opportunity to explore variation. For example, in our GardenAR application, apprentice gardeners design a virtual garden based on a 2D model of their own garden (as captured by a drone) by planting trees and placing objects. They can modify the garden as much as they want including the season and age of the garden, in order to visualise how it will look in the future and then decide whether to revise their design – this would be impossible in real life.”

And finally…

“In my keynote session at the European Education Festival in March, I hope to demystify the preconception that digital tools make schools cold and uninviting, as well as debunking the over-expectation placed on technology in the classroom – it can work well in the classroom, but there is no miracle solution!”

Find out more about the 2020 European Education Festival.

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