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LEA at ITK 2018

The Interactive technology in education conference (ITK) is a yearly event that takes place in Finland. It is a meeting point for learning technology professionals, schools, suppliers and other interested people who work in the Finnish educational sector. This year, the ITK took place from 11 to 13 April and was attended by representatives of the LEA project. Below is a report on their experiences at the conference.

How to make educated purchases in the learnech jungle of procurement? This is the question that LEA - Learntech Accelerator project is tackling. We went to the ITK Days, which is the largest learntech conference in Finland where most of the virtual learning environment providers and schools are present. About 3000 teachers, learntech solution providers and educational experts visit the ITK every year. This conference takes place in Hämeenlinna, Finland and is an important opportunity to meet all the Finnish players of this field.

Conferences like ITK are great for analysing the current trends in the learning technology sector. Based on this year's experiences, the the following phenomena are the most sought-after learning technology solutions:

  1. Holo glasses - VR, AR, MR. This technology has had its breakthrough and we could see many people hovering around the corridors; however, many teachers were asking what this technology’s actual added value is to their teaching. They were wondering if this might just be another 'smart board' which will be shortlived as many other technologies have been. The teachers were concerned with how VR/AR/MR can help students learn better and what is the pedagogical approach would be best combied with the technology. Despite the concerns it was motivating to see pilots from Northern Central Finland, giving some excellent demonstations.
  2. AI (articifiall intelligence). Although even experts, specifically learning technology sellers, are in disagreement where learning analytics end and AI begins, this is a very important topic. It is interesting to discuss how complicated algorithms have to be in order for them to be considered AI.
  3. Learning Analytics. Learning analytics are currently part of most state-of-the-art learning environments, although they are mostly used for measuring user behavior, not learning behaviour. Additionally, they are usually used to recommend more content, but not actual support.
  4. Pokemon Go style learning materials. With this approach students walk around and complete tasks in their real physical environments. The main question is, however, who would have the time to develop these materials as that process surely is time consuming. If students create the materials, the schools do not own any rights to them as IPR become effective. This means that many of the excellent materials produced by students cannot be re-used by their schools.
  5. GDPR (general data protection regulations). The security laws coming up from the EU have to be considered, as they regulate how personal or personal-like data are handeled. Within these new laws and regulations (becoming effective in May 2018), companies will be punished with high payments is data breech on confidential data is identified. Some American companies are already withdrawing from the European market due to the upcoming new GDPR.

The LEA project had a poster presentation in ITK and started its state-of-the-art analysis by interviewing the PLE providers that were present: Mobie eSmart, Blackboard, It's Learning, Peda.net, Qridi, Microsoft, Dicentum, Claned... It was a period of intensive work for everyone, but it brought great results.

Are you a personalised learning environment provider? Are you a Learning technology buyer/procurer? Please contact us for more information: coordinator@learntechaccelerator.org