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Education festival in Bury St Edmunds looks at how to be human in a digital world

How to be human in a digital world will be the driving issue at a major education festival in Bury St Edmunds on Friday (June 28).

The third International Festival of Learning at West Suffolk College will welcome more than 90 speakers including Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, Graham Trick and Mike Watkinson, from Apple, as well as Mary Myatt, education adviser and author at John Catt Educational Publishing, and Oliver Cavigliol, author of bestselling book ‘Dual Coding with Teachers’.

The event, which is aimed at educators and businesses from across the region, brings together the best in thought-leaders across the globe to discuss, debate and ask the questions and find solutions for super charging the education system.

Amanda Spielman at last year's festival. Picture by Mecha Morton.
Amanda Spielman at last year's festival. Picture by Mecha Morton.

Sponsored by Pearson, it will examine the human skills needed to interface with digital technologies to ensure the next generation have the best chance to succeed in a tech-driven future.

Dr Nikos Savvas, chief executive of Eastern Colleges Group, said: “This festival addresses one of the biggest issues of our time, - how do we not only maintain our humanness in a world that is becoming increasingly digitalised, but how do we use advanced technology to serve us and enhance our human skills.

"In an age of algorithms and artificial intelligence, learning how to be human can be more challenging than ever.

"Text messages are curt, Alexa doesn’t expect a thank you, and emails can’t detect when the sender needs a hug.

"By 2020, experts predict our planet will be home to 30 billion things with embedded intelligence combined with nearly eight billion smart devices.

"That means by next year, there will be a ratio of approximately six intelligent devices/things for every one one human on the planet.

Dr Nikos Savvas.
Dr Nikos Savvas.

"As adults, educators and parents, we need to teach our young people how to wield technology whilst accounting for their uniquely human needs.

"We all know that a screen - whether a TV, tablet or smart phone will never give the same experience as the real world, but with empathy, understanding, compassion and all the other age-old human capacities, digital technology can serve us and open up worlds that we never thought possible.

"‘Digital humanism’ is the notion that people are the central focus in digital leadership and how to accomplish the balance is such an important discussion for today.

"It needs the ‘collective brain’ of policy makers, businesses, educators and everyone in between.

"This year’s festival will launch the collective brain process as leading global tech companies - such as Apple, IBM, ARM, BT - will join chief policy makers including Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, and prominent names from the worlds of education, business, government and media to debate this, and other big issues, around the theme of ‘human skills in a technological world’.

"I encourage you to come and be part of the debate."

The event is spread across the West Suffolk College main campus with multiple zone areas, including STEM, SEND, PE and sport, administration and support, leadership, performing arts, wellbeing, international education, teacher training, and careers education.

How we embrace technology, and use it to enhance our skills is a challenge and an opportunity that we all face - Angela Berry

Angela Berry, executive director for Learning Partnerships, added: "The engagement model of the event is all about networking, connectivity, sharing and learning from each other in inspired and energised spaces.

"We have professionals from all sectors attending the day, all ready to debate and discuss how we can inspire the best humans in a digital world.

"How we embrace technology, and use it to enhance our skills is a challenge and an opportunity that we all face.

"West Suffolk College’s role is to prepare our young people for the future and we are proud to be hosting this event once again.

"Thank you to all our partners and to our main event sponsor Pearson, whose report, ‘The Future of Skills, employment in 2030’ spawned this year’s event theme."

For tickets, visit ifleast.org