Want to change the world? Join learners, teachers and ministers for EFF16 at the Education World Forum
What better way to kick off the annual BETT week than a global online debate that gets to the heart of learning and teaching?

Education Fast Forward 16 (EFF16), based among the 50 or so international education ministers attending the Education World Forum (EWF) in London, continues its support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with "Learning Literacy by Design". Tune in and join at www.effdebate.org (@effdebate on Twitter - #EFF16) on Monday morning, January 18, at 9am BST.

EFF16 is conducted over the high-definition video-conferencing network run by sponsor Polycom and livestreamed over the internet from www.effdebate.org so it can be extended on social media.

'Experience, political savvy and commitment'

"The experience of the educators taking part, combined with the political savvy and commitment of the EWF ministers gathered in London, and our global online participants will make for a sparkling mix,” says EFF co-founder Jim Wynn.

“We are committed to the UN SDGs and how education threads trough them all - and BETT is too. And the last two EFF debates have been fabulous explorations of how to achieve them. Classroom practice - and online work where there are no classrooms - are clearly important routes to achieving the UN goals but the ’how’ is not as clear as the ‘why’.

“So for EFF16, set at the Education World Forum in London with education ministers from all over the globe, we have brought in experts to explore ‘learning literacy’ and how it can be adopted by education systems and citizens more generally. They will be joined by EFF fellows worldwide and teachers on social media to probe the following questions: 

  • What is learning literacy?
  • Can learning literacy be defined?
  • Can it be designed into the school curriculum and beyond, for example in dealing with life’s challenges, as volunteers and in our work?”

We're familiar with the traditional literacies - reading, writing and arithmetic. But the disruption brought by technology means we have to think differently about learning and teaching so our schools and education system can keep pace. We may also be aware of a growing need to think differently about technology, communications and other areas if we are to survive and thrive in today’s world. Yet change in our world comes ever faster, it seems we are having to learn about new things almost continuously, every day.

Successful and sustained growth 'requires creating a learning society'

While most people would not want education to be determined by the economy, Professor Joseph Eugene Stiglitz, an award-winning economist with Columbia University, warns that “successful and sustained growth and development requires creating a learning society. Especially as we move towards a knowledge economy.” 

Gavin Dykes, EFF co-founder and EWF programme director, will chair the event that includes contributions from Elhadj As Sy, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Michael Trucano, the World Bank’s senior specialist on education and innovation. EWF delegates and other contributors from across the globe will join them, as will closing speaker Eileen Barnes-Vachell, Babcock Education’s senior consultant.

Last December, EFF15 demonstrated that while politicians and governments may have problems with change, educators do not share their limitations. Students from Saltash.net Community School in Cornwall, and their deputy headteacher Dan Buckley gave first-hand accounts of how their school has been developed to involve students far more in their learning. 

Heard of students sitting on interview panels? It happens at Saltash.net. Or teachers brave enough to use student critique to improve their practice? Dan Buckley also revealed that the school has changed lessons for some years so that 'soft skills' have been integrated into the overall assessment. It's suspended when high-stakes assessment comes along.

They were radical revelations that emerged just as naturally from the students as from their teacher. And when the EFF15 physical debate (in Polycom's London studio) veered towards the theoretical there were always international colleagues to take it sharply into the practical.

Rural Indian children design their own curriculum - Barefoot College

Like Rachna Pant in India giving the example of the Barefoot College in Rajasthan where the curriculum is designed for the needs of rural children who are already working, moving herds of cattle hundreds of miles. It's a very demanding existence and the children are simply not interested in a curriculum that doesn't take account of their needs. They won't turn up. So they help create it - and it works.  

Summing up EFF15 and bringing its elements together, Dan Buckley said, "One of the things that really struck me has been how interconnected all of this is." For example, the connection between poverty, mental health, environment with learning. This makes the context crucial.

Continuing the summation, he added: "We need to return to the learning for action, for social action, where students can construct their own curriculum. We're saying that by allowing people to go and develop these kinds of curricula we need to have an assessment system which recognises the diversity of that, and that seems to be where we are stuck. We are moving away from a curriculum as such in the old-fashioned sense, and moving towards a curriculum of opportunity."

The good news is that the Saltash.net team, with teacher Scott Wieprecht, will return to EFF16 on Monday morning [January 18] so participants can be assured of real, practical learning and teaching with the rich insights from EWF and educators worldwide. So how should learning and teaching change? To extend a welcome from Jim Wynn, "Do join us."

More information
Twitter: @effdebate and #EFF16   
Educators are already blogging about EFF16. Read Lars Persen and Jon Harman. 

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