Jisc Digital Festival, 9-10 March 2015
Day one, Monday 9 March
Simon Nelson is the chief executive of FutureLearn, the social learning platform, and first UK-based provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs).
Simon founded the Open University-backed initiative in December 2012 and has quickly established it as a high quality entrant to the emerging online learning market. The FutureLearn site went live in September 2013; since then nearly 750,000 people have registered, generating 1.5 million sign-ups to more than 130 courses.
To date, FutureLearn has partnered with 40 leading universities and cultural institutions in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australasia and Africa to deliver over free online courses to learners around the world. The company was named “Start-up of the Year” at the 2014 British Interactive Media Awards. FutureLearn also won the “People’s LOVIE Award” and the “Judges’ Silver Award” in the ‘Schools & Education Website’ category of the 2014 LOVIES, organised by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS).
Simon was a key figure in the development of the BBC’s online and digital services and a pioneer in taking its media brands and content online. He developed and delivered the BBC’s digital strategies for radio and music, took its radio and music brands online, launched the BBC’s first on demand services – the innovative Radio Player and world-leading podcasting service – and developed its new digital stations, including Radio 6 Music. He then moved to head up all digital content activities for BBC Television, leading the development of the BBC iPlayer and creating an online presence for all of the BBC’s programmes, channels and key subject areas, from drama and kids’, to science and learning.
After leaving the BBC, Simon led a number of digital strategy and product development projects in the TV, radio and publishing sectors, working as an advisor to companies including Random House, UKTV, Lime Pictures, United Business Media and Phaidon Press.
Bob Harrison has had extensive experience in schools and colleges as a teacher, senior manager, principal and governor. He has worked with head teachers and senior leaders in developing leadership skills for the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) college principals qualification and the Building Schools for the Future leadership programme.
Bob was made an Honorary Life member of CGLI (City & Guilds) for services to vocational education following 12 years as chief examiner.
He has been Toshiba’s education adviser for 13 years and is a writer, presenter and researcher on mobile learning, digital technologies and next generation learning. Toshiba is the “lead employer” in the Nottingham University Academy of Science and Technology.
Bob was a member of the British Computer Society/Royal Academy of Engineering working group which redrafted the ICT national curriculum to make it more “ambitious and challenging”. He also chairs the computing expert group established by the Department for Education (DfE) to support teachers and teacher educators in the transition to the new computing curriculum, and is now a member of UKForce (UK Forum for Computing Education).
He is currently the chair of the Teaching Schools New Technology Advisory Board, a higher education/industry/schools/DfE/NCTL group which aims to ensure that the next generation of teachers have the necessary skills to prepare children for their lives as workers and digital citizens in the third millennium.
Bob was a leading member of the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG) and is now a member of the ministerial Educational Technology Action Group (ETAG) chaired by Professor Stephen Heppell.
Follow Bob on Twitter @bobharrisonset.
Day two, Tuesday 10 March
She leads a large team of researchers and developers working in e-science. She applies technical advances in knowledge technologies, distributed computing, workflows and social computing to solve information management problems for life scientists, especially systems biology, and other scientific disciplines, including biodiversity, chemistry, health informatics and astronomy.
Her current research interests are in reproducible research, asset curation and preservation, semantic interoperability, knowledge exchange between scientists and new models of scholarly communication. She has been advocating the releasing of research as research objects.
In 2008 she was awarded the Microsoft Jim Gray Award for outstanding contributions to e-science and in 2010 was elected a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. In 2014 she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty The Queen for her services to science.
Richard Watson is a writer, speaker and consultant who advises organisations on the future, focusing particularly on scenario planning and the impact of trends on long-term strategy.
He publishes the online magazine What’s Next and is the author of best selling books Future Files (sixteen worldwide editions) and Future Minds, and writes for a number of leading business publications worldwide. His latest book, Future Minds looks at how the digital age is changing our minds (especially how young people learn and interact), why this matters and what we can do about it.
Richard has worked on scenario planning, horizon scanning and innovation projects with, amongst others, IBM, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Westfield, P&G, News Ltd, Nestlé, The Department of Education (UK and Australia) and Samsung.
Specific areas of expertise include newspapers, education, retail banking and food. His talks cover emerging trends, strategic foresight or scenario planning and he is an engaging and provocative futurist speaker.
Richard is also a visiting lecturer at London Business School.