What I learnt at Accelerating Digital Transformation 2017

Amie Fletcher
by Amie Fletcher
What I learnt at Accelerating Digital Transformation 2017

My husband recently gave me an Alexa (an Echo Dot) for my birthday, I was pretty excited about this, until I found out it doesn’t (yet) connect with my Sonos. Who would have thought that I would find the answer at a conference on edtech? But in fact the “new and important edtech event for 2017” – Accelerating Digital Transformation 2017 was a real learning curve for me – both personally and professionally.

First I discovered Jibo! The opening speaker was IBM evangelist Jeremy Waite, @jeremywaite, who definitely got my imagination flowing. I’m now on the waiting list for Jibo (The World's First Social Robot for the Home).

But as a delegate, and also exhibitor and sponsor, I learnt a lot that will help Vevox meet industry demands in the future. For example, throughout the day a few buzz words jumped out at me (other than ‘Jibo’!) … ‘Personalisation’ ‘Personification’ ‘Trust’ ‘Partnerships’ ‘Bite-sized learning’ ‘Big data’ ‘Man vs machine’ ‘Community’ ‘Digital comfort zone’ ‘Humans are lazy’ ‘Knowledge DJ’. Let me pick a few to expand on:
  1. Trust – Trust is at an all-time low. It’s worrying. It’s more important than ever to grow trust with students and colleagues (and in Vevox’s case, our customers). Have a look at the Edelman report here. This was a key takeaway for me.
  2. Personalisation – Automated marketing already has elements of personalisation, but people want more. They don’t have time to waste on irrelevant emails. Content must be relevant and targeted.
  3. Personification – What is it? … We all do it without knowing. For example, we say things such as – “My computer throws a fit every time I try to use it.” Machines are becoming more and more real.
  4. Knowledge DJ – I love the concept of a lecturer being a “knowledge DJ”. Understand what students want and need to learn and teach them. It’s a phrase I hope to use more of and plan to consider how Vevox can help lecturers and trainers achieve this.

Rather than just share my thoughts, I also gathered the ideas of a few others too:

Future Learn

First I chatted to Nigel Smith, Head of Content at FutureLearn and he shared some of his thoughts with me on the conference …

“I enjoyed speaking about how FutureLearn is digitally transforming higher education. The recurring theme for me was that a university's senior management - centrally in the VC's office and within faculties - have to empower the people within their institutions who can transform them digitally to be allowed to do so. Two quotes from speakers stand out: ‘How can innovators in Higher Education not be subjugated in institutional inertia?’ and ‘Learning technologist has to be a respected role within institutions.’Hear, hear!” 


Mark Beilby, Executive Chairman at Vevox shared his thoughts …“There was a good deal of emphasis on partnerships and there seems to be three levels of partnership:

  1. Edtech entrepreneurial companies such as Vevox.
  2. Big companies such as Microsoft.
  3. The innovation initiatives of the HE institutions themselves. Strathclyde is especially sophisticated in this regard.

“The question is, how do you link these partners together? - A key element is conferences such as ADT. Technology is the servant of the teacher. It should help the teacher’s perception of the students’ needs and enhance their ability to communicate clear and coherent message.

Mark was also on the final panel and I really liked one of his comments "Give the students a voice to make the teachers teach better" … and this is what I hope Vevox can help lecturers do.


Gavin Newman of Ivent said: “The role of technology is to allow the teacher to engage with the pupil. The edtech market is fragmented and this is why every university needs a strong learning technologist.”

Finally, the tweets at ADT reached the top 20 trending in the UK, I’ve picked my top tweets to really summarise my key moments!