Participants’ notes

Exploring Education Futures

Key information

The latest programme is here. It is being updated as participants send information….




Why are we holding this November unconference?

Whatever your professional role in promoting the value of digital technologies in education, we are inviting all the participants at the  Exploring Education Futures ‘unconference’ to take an active role in impacting on policy and practice by contributing to some collaborative outputs.

You can join online from anywhere in the world on 5th November from 1700-1830 and contribute ideas even if you cannot attend the unconference face to face. Please bring an web enabled laptop if you will be in Bedford. Our aim is to provide a space where participants can collaborate on ideas, suggestions and solutions that will have some impact on practitioners and policy makers.

The overarching assumption of an ‘unconference’  is that everyone who attends, online or face to face, has an interesting perspective on the changes that have taken place recently. In summary, 5-7 November we are debating two key issues  in Exploring Education Futures. Firstly, we are celebrating the fact that educators are learning new practices because learning technologies have become more sophisticated and more widely distributed. Secondly, from our professional standpoint we are questioning  whether politicians  should  have a fundamental impact on policies about the ICT curriculum content. We are interested in what is happening to ICT policy in other countries as well.

What are the unconference themes?

This conference is one of a series in which colleagues have identified six issues. Nos 1-5 below were identified in Prague and no 6 was added in response to changes being made to the ICT curriculum in the UK:

  1. Continuing professional development in ICT led by Rachel Jones;
  2. Building professional knowledge led by Matthew Pearson;
  3. Safeguarding identities, wellness and safety led by Carsten Trinitis;
  4. Developing theories of learning led by Sarah Younie;
  5. Developing an evidence based profession led by Marilyn Leask plus R&D&R MESH group;
  6. Managing tensions between the demands of computer science, digital literacy and Information technology in a changing ICT landscape led by Christina Preston.

How can participant professionals be co-researchers?

The ‘unconference’ team are keen that as professionals we should be active in the debates about Educational Futures with policy makers and politicians. All the participants, therefore, are also co-researchers who will engaged in the process of providing informative and persuasive ideas and analysing the collaborative input. Throughout the unconference, co-researchers will be invited to work collaboratively using post-its on paper concept maps on the walls and on remotely authored digital maps as ideas are stimulated by colleagues. Dr Andrea Raiker and Dr Christina Preston will be collating the output from these  face to face activities, and Dr John Cuthell will be inviting participants to join the maps and the Flash meeting for the MirandaMod on 5th November.

In the working groups on 6th/ 7th November, and after the conference, all the participants will be encouraged to help in the analysis of the ideas data  so that we can provide insightful outputs in different forms for local, regional, national and, even, international purposes.

What are the various role of participant co-researchers?

  • Each face to face participant has one or more roles and will need a wifi enabled laptop. You will receive an invitation from Dr John Cuthell to join the Mind Meister online concept maps that are being used and the Flash Meeting;
  • Six participants, the keynotes, will have 15-20 minutes for expert input on three elements of the programme: Dominic Savage, BESA on the educational computing industry in a changing climate ; Vanessa Pittard on the ICT curriculum from the point of view of the Department of Education ; Dr Bozena Mannova on the ICT Curriculum in the Czech Republic; Professor Rosie Rafferty on Strategic Professional development for the 21st Century; Professor Marilyn Leask on new ways of impacting on education policy and systems; and, Dr Chris Yapp leading the MirandaMod Educational Futures debate: Digital technologies and  practice.Where are we? Who are we influencing?
  • Six participants, the working group leaders, will introduce their theme to their group members for about 15 minutes, taking account of what is being said at the unconference and collected on the maps. They will also have a role overseeing the concept map about their topic;
  • All unconference participants as co-researchers will be contributing  ideas about the main themes throughout and after the unconference, debate the issues in the the sessions and the MirandaMod;
  • Some unconference participants have elected to talk about their expertise in one of the sessions. In this case send a  200-300 word abstract to put on the MirandaNet conference website that can reference any other resources you would like people to know about.  Send to;
  • All MirandaNet members who cannot attend the unconference, face to face or online, are invited, as co-researchers,  to send a 100-200 word contribution about their views on any of the topics above that will be included in the final outputs. Send to

Summary of participant co-researchers roles

To summarise: in an unconference you may have more than one role:

  • all attendees are participant co-researchers  in all the debates and the MirandaMod and in developing the collaborative concept maps collating our knowledge and expertise;
  • some are participant co-researcher also presenting a point of view in a session formally based on a 200-300 word abstract;
  • six people are working group leader supporting collaboration and overseeing the data collection on the concept map;
  • three keynote speakers developing the themes;
  • some colleagues will join the MirandaMod on line;
  • some MirandaNet member who cannot attend will contribute a 100-200 abstract for one of the working groups.

How long is your talk?

Please check that your name is on the draft programme in the right section. You can see from the number of people in that section and the length of it approximately how long you have to present your point of view. Please adapt your normal practice at a conventional conference and talk about what you know in headlines rather than depth so that the rest of the community can ask questions, draw out the similarities and differences and end each session with some thoughts about the future and the direction we should all be aiming in.

We find that the use of presentation software can impede the flow of the debate and the engagement of your audience which will be about 35 people so use this mode of communication sparingly or not at all. If you do have a presentation make sure that you have it on a stick and it is loaded before the session…or load it online.

Your abstract and the attendant materials in the programme will paint a fuller picture of your professional expertise.

Below your action points are first and the explanations follow. Please read carefully so that you know what to do.

Action points

  • Book your rooms directly at the hotel TODAY at special prices here;
  • Fill in your booking form. When you receive your invoice pay online to World Ecitizens and send a receipt to Christina confirming payment. Alternatively let Christina know that you are bringing cash or a cheque to the hotel:;
  • Check the programme here to see you are in the right session;
  • If you are speaking send your 200-300 word abstract to for the programme that will be published on the web;
  • Sign into the Education Communities website and put your photo and profile in the MirandaNet Poskole community of enquirers (‘Poskole’ is a Czech joke word for teachers’ homework that was used at the unconference in Prague).
  • Read the background academic paper and articles, Merlin John online,  the round up from Prague conference and the information about the Education Futures Collaboration;
  • Bring a web enabled laptop to the unconference.