5 Lessons Learned From Open edX Conference 2017

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Since our inception, we at Proversity have been working closely with our friends at edX to lead a revolution in e-Learning, having built a "full stack" service providing tailored digital learning platforms, instructional design, and world-class courses for Enterprise, Higher Education & Government, powered by Open edX. 

On May 24 and 25, Madrid played host to the 2017 Open edX Conference, an event designed for members of the global Open edX community to discuss innovative uses of online learning across higher education, training and lifelong learning, as well as methods for operating, extending and enhancing the Open edX platform. At Proversity, we are delighted to be a Keystone Sponsor at the event and here are our top five lessons we learned from Madrid.

#1: 50% of our jobs will be gone by 2030! 😱

In his opening address, Anant Agarwal, the CEO of edX, spoke about how we're going to see mass disruption across the workplace with as much as 50% of jobs available today disappearing by 2030. In his talk, Anant walked us through what education should be doing to meet this change, as well as some of the exciting innovations that edX have planned for the future of higher education and ultimately how we must adapt as 75% of the workforce in 2030 will be millennial.

This served as a kind reminder of the scale of the problem we exist to solve and really by harnessing the latest technologies to scale online learning we can ensure that we steer past the challenges of the future. You can view Anant's talk here:

#2: The impact of moving online.📲

One of the most exciting things that contributed to the Open edX conference was a conversation from one of our clients, Teach First, a social enterprise that aims to address educational disadvantage in England and Wales. In her talk Philippa Hardman walked us through the journey she took in working with us to transform a program that had previously been delivered in person to the digital age and the impact this has had to Bloom's Taxonomy, which describes many traditional classroom practices, behaviours and actions, but does not account for the new processes and actions associated with advances in technology.

It is for this reason we have taken a holistic approach that incorporates technology, content, marketing and most importantly learning design leading to engagement and completion rates in excess of 80%. To learn more about the challenges and benefits of moving online check out Philippa's talk here:

#3: Large corporations are embracing MOOCs in a big way.👜💼

From initially creating global onboarding programs for the Bank of England to developing digital literacy training for the world's largest advertising agency WPP, our story is very much born out of the struggles that face today's employer. One of the most heartening things to see from the open edX conference was the plethora of organizations looking to explore online learning.

Microsoft showcased an integrated approach to managing professional development with a combination of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) they have made open to the world on edx.org and their own instance of Open edX to deliver their own internal corporate university.

In his keynote speech Global Chief Learning Officer at McKinsey & Company Nick van Dam spoke about the need for corporations to adopt online e-Learning as a cornerstone to their talent development or lose in a world of AI and automation.

#4: Prototypes in action.😅

As a designer at heart, I’m a firm believer in constantly iterating and showing off your best ideas to get feedback. We took this opportunity to showcase a number of features we have recently developed. We presented our Immersive platform which allows us to render 360 video and interact with content in VR. It was really exciting to get so much positive feedback and some fantastic pointers to improve our User Experience. If you are interested in Immersive learning check out the following video:

We also gave a lecture on AI and the platforms we are developing as part of our partnership with IBM Watson, as we aim to support organizations for the transition to the fourth industrial revolution. In the tutorial, we showcased translation and transcription with the IBM Watson Speech-to-Text service. If you’d like to have a go and have some fun, experimenting and iterating, check out our handy tutorial.

#5: How far we have come? 🎉

Towards the end of the Open edX conference, we took a moment to reflect on how far the community has come…

When we started with Open edX you would often hear from the community "what's a Xblock?", "how do we start this thing?", however what really struck me was how this has progressed to a vibrant & knowledgeable community.

Furthermore, this year marks a special moment for the Open edX community, with now over 11 million users, it has for the first time outgrown edx.org. Totaling to over 22 million users between the two platforms! All of which is by in large thanks to the edX and Open edX teams for their support.

22 million

We’re excited for a shared vision ahead. If you are interested in Open edX for your organization's learning needs, please get in touch. We’d love to help.