Birkbeck University of London: Shaping the future of education through computing and learning technologies
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Birkbeck University of London: Shaping the future of education through computing and learning technologies

The world of technology is advancing at breakneck speed, becoming ever more intertwined with an increasingly global society. The advancements being made have fantastic potential to change and improve how we live our lives, from smaller tasks like ordering food to bigger issues like social inclusion and climate change.

Education is one such issue that reaps the benefits of emerging technology. Not only are educators helping students master the devices and code that will soon become integral to their real-world profession, but they are using these technologies as part of the learning process, incorporating them into the curriculum to boost student learning outcomes.

The phenomenon of Learning Technology and Education Technology, widely known as EdTech, is already changing how we teach, learn and even interact by taking advantage of the latest digital trends to engage learners and innovate classroom education. As technology continues to advance, traditional methods of teaching make way for advances that overcome existing issues within the education system.

And it is big business; according to a report by London & Partners and EdTech UK, in 2015, the global EdTech sector was worth £45 billion and is on course to reach £129bn by 2020. EdTech has been on the rise in recent years and this trajectory looks set to maintain a steady pace; now is the best time to get involved in the future of teaching and education practice.

The Department of Computer Science and Information Systems at Birkbeck, University of London, is a great place to do just that. The Department itself is a known EdTech specialist, boasting a rich history in the advancement of technology and standing as the UK’s oldest computer science Department, which makes it the perfect springboard to a career in this diverse industry. All this, and in a fantastic location in the iconic City of London, surrounded by the history and grandeur of the University’s stunning campus, a stone’s throw away from the British Museum and the iconic Regent’s Park – enough to make it an exciting place to call home for any visiting international student.

Birkbeck also has an enviable reputation for producing independently-minded, focused and determined graduates that are highly-valued by employers round the world – a quality reflected by the fact that 95 percent of Birkbeck students are in work or further study six months after graduation.

The Department offers a range of courses under the computer sciences umbrella, from short courses and undergraduate, to Masters and Doctorates; including Professional Development Short Courses, BSc in Information Systems and ManagementMSc in Computer Science, and an MSc in Information Technology.

The Department’s specialist programmes give students a more focused and in-depth understanding of the area, in which they choose to pursue a career. The MSc in Learning Technologies provides the ideal groundwork for entering the booming EdTech industry, going beyond the evaluation and improvement of current technologies and delving into the design and development of new, pioneering advances.

With the full weight of the Department’s expertise, state-of-the-art facilities and artificial intelligence techniques, this course is amongst the best in the world for those who want to play a leading role in the future development of innovative software systems to support learning and teaching.

Exploring the role between technology and pedagogy, students here learn the practical aspects of developing and evaluating learning systems, challenging themselves in a final project to design and produce their own learning systems, born out of careful analysis and evaluation.

This hands-on experience prepares students for the rigour and complexities of a career in learning technologies. While the industry has been instrumental in changing the face of education, the road does not end here; the future of the sector is both fraught with challenges and rife with promise.

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Image courtesy of Birkbeck University of London

Birkbeck understands this and fully acknowledges that investing in meaningful research is the only way to counteract any likely issues that might arise along the way . That’s why all core modules on the Learning Technologies course are delivered by staff from the Birkbeck Knowledge Lab, whose research is exploring the ways in which digital technologies and digital information are transforming learning, working and cultural values.

This multi-disciplinary centre of knowledge taps into a myriad of different sources to gain the most accurate and insightful perspective of our lives in the digital world. These include fellow researchers, educationalists, schools, museums, businesses, and other public and private organisations, both nationally and internationally.

The world’s foremost researchers at the Birkbeck Knowledge Lab dedicate their efforts to three central pillars of research, one of which is “What is the potential for new technologies to inform the pedagogies and practice of learning and to transform education?”, making it the ideal place to learn from recognised leaders of the EdTech field.

Through groundbreaking research collaborations, both the Department and Birkbeck Knowledge Lab open up opportunities in the future of education, and the role technology currently plays within it. By understanding this dynamic medium, researchers and students alike are promoting a better use of technology – in learning based on tangible and substantive results. This commitment to furthering effective learning technologies is the building block of future education, playing a major role in assisting individual students, teachers, the community and the wider world.

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