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    Learnings from Web Summit 2019: AI, Gen Z and the Future of Education

    Last week, we attended Web Summit 2019, the largest annual tech event in the world. In this article we share our top edtech takeaways.
    Last updated:
    February 13, 2024

    Last week, we attended the highly anticipated Web Summit 2019 which took place in Lisbon. Web Summit is the largest annual tech event in the world, and was described by Forbes as “the best technology conference on the planet.” If you didn’t get chance to go, don’t worry - we’re sharing our top edtech takeaways with you in this blog post.

    Web Summit attracts over 70,000 attendees, including startup founders, investors, policy makers, university leaders and heads of state.

    An impressive 1,206 speakers took to the various stages at this year's event. Famous faces included the EU’s most prominent tech enforcer, Margrethe Vestager, legendary footballer Eric Cantona and Canva co-founder and CEO, Melanie Perkins. Even the exiled whistleblower, Edward Snowden, made an appearance via video link.

    As edtech experts, we were interested in seeking out the discussions that centred around the future of technology in the context of higher education. Here are six of our favourite and most insightful talks on the topic. Enjoy!

    1.  Education beyond the classroom

    Speakers: Corinne Vigreux, Tom Tom & Codum; Thomas  Holl,; Mmantsetsa Marope, UNESCO; Tom Finn, Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    "How do we educate outside of the classroom in a time when technological innovation is changing education so rapidly?"

    Panellists discuss lifelong learning, how to encourage learning outside of the classroom and the impact education can have on society as a whole. Listen to the experts chat about the importance of nurturing the next generation of tech experts, learning apps, digital literacy and bringing coding into mainstream education.  

    2. The future of education powered by AI

    Speaker: Derek Haoyang Li, Squirrel AI Learning.

    "The Artificial Intelligence Tutor can tailor learning plans for each student, according to his or her individual needs."

    What might the "perfect" education tech tool look like, and can AI teachers really beat real-life ones? This year, Squirrel AI Learning made the Deloitte Top 50 fast-growing companies leaderboard and is leading the way when it comes to AI and learning. Founder, Derek Haoyang, discusses his company's success as well as the successes of the students who have benefitted from his solution. 

    3. Future of work

    Speakers: Polina Montano, David Yang, Yancey Spruill, Sarah Nahm and Liam Proud.

     "Society and governments need to address this huge skills gap and prepare people for the future of work"

    Every industry - including higher education - is undergoing change. Often, there is a large disparity between a company's vision and its ability to attract the talent they need to reach it. Experts provide tangible tips for attracting talent, embracing diversity and inclusion and building software for a modern workplace environment.  

    4. Gen Z consumers - what do they want?

    Speakers: Karen McCormick, Tara Reeves, Rob Lowe, Avi Eyal and Eva Baczynska.

    "What struck me about Gen Z consumers is that for them, UX is so, so important...they simply won't put up with a poorly designed experience."

    What motivates Gen Z as consumers and how to they differ from previous generations? This panel discuss gaming and learning through play, the co-living movement and influencer credibility - or lack of. There's been a lot of media attention on Millennials over the last few years so it's interesting to get an insight into Gen Z.

    5. Are we AI-ready?

    Speakers: Jean-François Gagné and Tim Stevens.

    "For me, successful AI deployment will always have three big components: data, algorithms and people."

    In this talk, the speakers take a whistle-stop tour through some of the entrepreneurial challenges around AI and provide advice on how to address data, differentiation, design and the shortage of tech talent out there today.

    6. The 2020 marketing playbook

    Speaker: David Meltzer

    "For 2020, we have to look not just at the energy of the content we have, but how we perpetuate that content - how do we perpetuate our brand?"

    Author and CEO, David Meltzer, explains why it's more important than ever for companies to communicate what impact their brand is having on the world and to focus on its features, benefits and capabilities. The video is well worth a watch for the Pet Rock anecdote alone!

    And that's a wrap.

    We hope to see you at Web Summit 2020.

    FULL FABRIC specialises in CRM and Admissions solutions for higher education. To see what we do, schedule a demo today or subscribe to our newsletter for regular edtech insights.


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    Kate Tattersfield

    Kate Tattersfield is a former teacher turned content creator at FULL FABRIC, specialising in writing for the education sector.

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