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April 8th 2005
Said Business School, University of Oxford

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

Setting the Scene

The policies used to govern our schools and universities shape our attitudes towards technology and define the choices we make towards their use:

  • The Internet provides the infrastructure for teachers and academics to easily disseminate their materials freely and openly, but universities continue to be measured by how often academics publish with reputable brands. This results in a less open system than is technically possible.
  • It is now feasible to for learners to use a wide range of devices (email, chat, blogs, wikis, discussion boards, voting, 3d worlds, mobile) to engage in highly distributed modes of learning. The classroom and lecture theatre form the majority of institutional learning environments, which constrain the learners in terms of geography and the forms of social interaction they can engage in.
  • We work, learn and solve problems in technologically and socially complex environments yet our examination system requires learners to perform away from their normal tools and social networks. Our highly competitive and pervasive examination system practically dictates the approach to learning teachers and their students are able to adopt.
  • The technologies behind the printing press define narrative structures that form the basis of how we share and express our understanding and ideas. The printed page restricts our ability to communicate with graphical representations (diagrams, maps, plans, animations, photographs, simulations, interactive graphing, 3d virtual worlds etc) and puts a strong bias towards using propositional/ sentential (text) representations. The technologies behind the printing press still dominate the technical environment of our schools and universities.
The Beyond the Red Tape conference facilitated discussion about the relationships within our education system: between government, schools and universities, teachers and learners. We hosted two keynotes and two debates that asked how technology should be used to oil the cogs of this giant knowledge-constructing and knowledge-sharing mechanism. Please see the programme for more details.


As in previous years, this conference took place the day after the annual Oxford University Shock Conference

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

HTML by M. Cacioppo, January 2005