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Organised by the Learning Technologies Group part of the OUCS, University of Oxford.
Sponsored by the JISC Committee for Learning and Teaching.


10.00-10.30 Registration and Coffee

10.30-11.00 First Plenary: Martin Ripley

11.00-12.30 Morning Debate.

"Should technology revolutionize education?".

Chair: Claire Fox

Technology should revolutionize education:

Technology should NOT revolutionise education:

12.30-1.00 Second Plenary:' " The still small voice". Education as seeking the Truth.'

Dom Antony Sutch ( former Headmaster at Downside School, Somerset and Benedictine monk)

1.00-2.00 Lunch (included in cost of registration)

2.00-2.30 Third Plenary: Niel McLean (BECTA)

2.30-4.30 Afternoon Debate.

"Attitudes not policies are stifling innovation in educational uses of technology"

Chair: Dr Philip Pothen (Press and PR Manager, JISC)

Attitudes are stifling innovation:

  • Keri Facer (Director of Learning Research, Nesta Futurelab)
  • Dr John Cook (Operations Manager for the Reusable Learning Objects CETL & Principal Research Fellow at the Learning Technology Research Institute, London Metropolitan University)

Policies are stifling innovation:


Martin Ripley is Head of e-Strategy at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). He has navigated the development of QCA’s national vision and blueprint for e-assessment. His team is responsible for providing the strategic lead to QCA, awarding bodies and publishers, in delivering QCA’s e-vision. Martin has taught in Chicago and Shanghai. He has a long career in test development and has been at the centre of innovation in assessment for nearly 15 years. He led the development of the statutory key stage 2 tests in the 1990s. More recently, he has overseen and steered the development of World Class Tests (on-screen problem solving assessments for 8–14 year olds); the eVIVA project (e-portfolios with mobile phone systems); the e-SCAPE project (e-portfolios using digital pen technology) and innovative tests in ICT for 13 year olds.

Claire Fox is the director of the Institute of Ideas (IoI), which she established to create a public space where ideas can be contested without constraint. Claire initiated the IoI while co-publisher of the controversial and ground-breaking current affairs journal LM magazine (formerly Living Marxism). The IoI has since worked with a variety of prestigious institutions in Britain and abroad. Claire has a particular interest in education and social issues such as crime and social exclusion. She is highly critical of authoritarian developments such as New Labour's 'antisocial behaviour orders'. She is also a passionate supporter of the arts, and strongly believes that they should be valued for their own sake. She argues that efforts to dilute the arts for the benefit of 'the socially excluded' are patronising rather than democratic. Claire is a panelist on BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze and is regularly invited to comment on developments in culture, education and the media on TV and radio. She writes regularly for national newspapers and a range of specialist journals. She has a monthly column in the MJ (municipal journal). Claire previously worked as a mental health social worker and as a lecturer in English literature.

Dom Antony Sutch is a former headmaster at Downside school and Benedictine monk. Antony is an outspoken critic of a ‘geek culture’ he claims dominates the Labour government, where an accountancy-agenda shapes the learning experiences in our educational institutions. Antony now does "Thought for the Day" on BBC Radio Four, writes, and does in a little television work. He is director of the Catholic Herald and Advisor to Hobsons Education plc. He describes himself as fat, fifty and sometimes furious! He loves horse racing and cricket.

Keri Facer is Director of Learning Research at Nesta Futurelab where she is responsible for the R&D programme and for the communication of research findings, in particular through the NESTA Futurelab literature review and conference series. In this role she works closely with technology and creative industries, teachers and policy makers to develop strategic interventions in educational ICT strategy through prototype development, research and cross-sectoral initiatives. Previously, Keri spent several years as researcher and lecturer at Bristol University's Graduate School of Education, where she continues to be a visiting fellow. Here she worked on a range of major innovative research projects, including ESRC projects Screen Play, InterActive Education and the DFES Evaluation of the National Grid for Learning. She has published widely in the field of children's digital cultures, with a particular focus on how young people's digital cultures. Her publications include the book ‘ScreenPlay: Children’s use of computers in the home’ (2003) and research papers on issues from the digital divide, to mobile learning, to children’s use of computer games.

Mary Barker worked in industry until 1993, she entered education as a Lecturer in Computing at Darlington College of Technology. In 1994 she became involved in international skills competitions, acting as IT Technical Expert for UK Skills, training the UK entrant and adjudicating at the International Youth Skills Olympics. This role was expanded in 1995 when she became a Director of Skills IT, and in 1999 when she became a member of the Skills Olympics National Committee. In 1996 Mary left Darlington College to become General Manager of the Northern College Network, spear-heading the development and research into new technologies for on-line learning. From August 1 st 1998 she became the first full time Chief Executive of NILTA. Representing FE in a number of regional and national committees, Mary was a member of the FEFC's Further Education ILT Committee, responsible for the development of the draft ILT strategy for the FE sector. She remains a member of the successor to this committee, the LSC's NLN Transformation Board, responsible for the development of the National Learning Network and associated implementation plan for the lifelong learning sector. In 2002, Mary led NILTA negotiations for the successful merger with the Association of Colleges and following this merger, on 1 st August 2003, she became Managing Director of AoC NILTA Ltd.

David Perks. Head of Physics at Graveney School, Tooting, London. He has taught in state schools for 18 years across England, and devised the Debating Matters sixth form debating competition now run by the Institute of Ideas and sponsored by the Wellcome Trust. He has written for the TES and The Times on education as well as contributing to The Routledge Falmer Guide to Key Debates in Education, 2004. He speaks frequently on education, especially in defence of teaching the hard sciences and understanding behaviour in schools.

Dr. John Cook (PhD MSc BSc CEng MBCS ILTM) is Operations Manager for the Reusable Learning Objects CETL & Principal Research Fellow at the Learning Technology Research Institute, London Metropolitan University. He has over 14 years previous experience as a full-time lecturer at various HEIs and 6 years project management experience, the latter includes AHRB, BECTA and HEFCE work. Furthermore, Cook has been principal investigator or co-investigator on research and development projects that have attracted £3.4 million in competitive external funding; he has also helped to obtain £500,000 of internal funds. In addition, he has published over 70 refereed articles in the area of e-learning, having a specific interest in four related areas: the role that dialogue can play in blended learning, the design of adaptive learning support, reusable learning objects and informal e-learning. He is Chair of the Association for Learning Technology and is a member of the Joint Information Systems Committee ‘e-Learning and Pedagogy Experts Group'. Cook sits on the Editorial Board for 'Studies in Learning, Evaluation, Innovation and Development' and conducts consultancy for the EC and DFES. Furthermore, he is External Examiner for The Open University's module T186 ‘Understanding e-learning: a guide for teachers and learners' and carries out end of project rapporteur work for the ESRC . He is married with 2 children, a jazz double bassist and plays 5-aside football.

Philip Pothen is part of the JISC Executive and is responsible for for dissemination of information to the Press and coordinating the Resource Guide initiative. Philip is Editor of JISC Inform and works with the JISC Communications team to facilitate widespread awareness of JISC to its stakeholder communities.

Niel McLean. After 15 years in teaching, LEA advisory work and consultancy work for a number of curriculum and assessment projects, Niel McLean joined the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority for the 'Dearing review' of the National curriculum in England.  He led on assessment work in IT and D&T, being responsible for all areas of examinations and qualifications in those areas, continuing to be responsible for ICT at QCA. He joined Becta in 1998 as Director for Schools where he led on its curriculum, LEA support and inclusion work. He established Becta’s Evidence and Practice directorate.  Niel has led on establishing Becta as a focus for educational research on ICT and good practice, including developing Becta’s successful awards schemes, managing significant research projects such as Impact 2 and establishing Becta’s ICT Research Network.  Becta is regularly called on to provide advice on ICT in education to both policy makers and practitioners.  Under Niel’s lead Becta has established itself as a focus for online communities of practitioners sharing and developing approaches to teaching and learning. Niel has recently become Executive Director, Educational Practice and now has overall responsibility for Institutional Development and Teaching and Learning at Becta.

Maya Kessler is currently studying for her AS-level examinations at Graveney School, reading Math, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Maya developed a passion for debating at her school where she is a member of the debating club. Maya also enjoys music, dance and theatre.

Saira Siddiqui is currently studying AS-level Philosophy, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics at Graveney School with the view to studing medicine at University. Saira's zest for debating began and was developed in the classroom, but really began with the intense discussions with friends during lunch breaks. Along with debating, Saira also has a passion for music, cinema, and literature.

Charlotte Lawrence is a 3rd year Physics and Philosophy student at St.Anne's College, University of Oxford. She has recently become managing editor of 'The Owl', a student run publication in Oxford, and is actively involved in the British Parliamentary debating circuit in the UK both through debating and judging. She formerly convened the Eastern Round of the Oxford Union Schools Debating Competition, finaled at the Cardiff IV and is presently acting as a mentor for the government sponsored London Debate Challenge run by the ESU. In addition, she has experience designing and teaching computer based courses for both adults and children at Marlborough College Summer school.

Tom Ogg is studying politics, philosophy and economics at Corpus ChristiCollege, University of Oxford. He founded a society called the Hive ( which aimed to create a new form of debate to contest ideas and challenge arguments through a robust and fluid format, removing the formality and stuffiness of Parliamentary debating.

Any enquiries can be directed to

As in previous years, this conference will be held the day after the annual Oxford University Shock Conference

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Picture credit: Adam Hart-Davis/DHD Multimedia Gallery.

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