Education Fast Forward celebrates Unesco's Mobile Learning Week with fresh debate

Mobile technology has massive potential for education, which is why Unesco's Mobile Learning Week (Monday March 7 to 11) is an annual ICT highlight. But it's still early days -- what vision and pedagogies are required for educators and learners to maximise that potential?

Unesco partner EFF17 helps kick off the week's events in Paris on Monday (6pm GMT) with a lively exploration of these issues in "Innovation and Quality: Two sides of the same coin?" Mobile learning pioneers will debate live with other global experts over streaming video while joined by other participants on social media. 

The partnership with UNESCO is to explore the extent to which mobile technology can strengthen the quality of education and facilitate learning. Expert panelists will consider how we can better understand the educational promises, limitations and risks of new ICT tools and pedagogies.

Technology can foster innovation in education

picMikeSharplesUMike SharplesThey will examine some of the ways technology is fostering innovation in the education sector: at the level of systems, schools, classrooms and individuals. The panel, chaired by Gavin Dykes, will also debate how innovations in mobile technology can best transform pedagogy.

One of the UK’s pioneering thinkers on mobile technology, Professor Mike Sharples, will kick off EFF17. Professor of educational technology at The Open University, he inaugurated the mLearn conference series and was founding president of the International Association for Mobile Learning.

picMariaSoledadRamirezMontoyaUMaria MontoyaHe will be followed by Professor Maria Soledad Ramirez Montoya, an expert in educational technology who is a professor and researcher at the School of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico. The other speaker is Professor Thomas M Philip from UCLA, Los Angeles, who brings a fresh angle to the debate – the ideological contexts of learning and teaching.

picThomasMPhilipUThomas PhilipOf course the discussion will then go out to the other EFF fellows around the world linked by the Polycom high-speed video network that hosts the debate. And they will be joined by those watching the debate on streaming video and contributing and asking questions via Twitter.

The event will be rounded off by a summation by Lord Jim Knight, who now works with TES Global but is also remembered as the last UK government minister to enjoy a meaningful brief for learning and technology.

Like previous debates, EFF17 is free to join and will be streamed on this page - Get involved by tweeting your comments and questions using #EFF17 which will be monitored and shared by Ken Royal throughout.

Unesco takes mobile learning very seriously

Mobile Learning Week, with its theme of   “Innovating for quality”, has such a high profile because Unesco takes mobile learning very seriously. And it's easy to see why.

The organisation estimates that 130 million primary school students cannot read basic sentences or solve simple arithmetic problems after four years of classes. These problems are not limited to early grades: at all levels of education, large numbers of learners are not acquiring the skills they need for the transition to work, realise opportunities in the information age and participate in their communities as global citizens.

The purpose of Mobile Learning Week 2016 is to explore how mobile technology can help fill this education gap. The event will advance international understandings about the ways in which newly affordable information and communication technologies can prompt innovation within the education sector to better ensure high-quality learning opportunities for all, in line with the UN's new Sustainable Development Agenda and 2030 targets for education.

The event has four core tracks: Monday's 'webinar' based on the EFF17 partnership; Tuesday's hands-on and interactive workshops; Wednesday's and Thursday's symposiums exploring innovations and strategies for using ICT to improve the quality of education; Friday's Policy Forum for high-level government representatives, held in poartnership with ITU.
It will be a dynamic week of events in Paris, but the opening EFF17 debate, streamed live on the internet, and extended on Twitter, will be a lively kick-off for everyone, wherever they are in the world. And the good news for educaters in and around Greenwich Mean Time is that it's outside school hours, making it far easier to drop in for some insights into mobile learning, and inspiration too.
More information
Watch EFF17 live at  
Follow @effdebate on Twitter  
Unesco's Mobile Learning Week