Futurelearn CEO confimed as Jisc Digital Festival opens registration

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Jisc has launched registration for its 2015 Digital Festival – with Simon Nelson, chief executive of FutureLearn, the social learning platform set up by The Open University as the first UK-based provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs), being confirmed as one of four keynote speakers.

It will take place on 9 and 10 March 2015 at the ICC in Birmingham.

The festival is aimed at showcasing the very best in UK digital talent. Celebrating the theme of ‘connect more’, the event is intended to bring people together through digital technology across UK education, research, skills and enterprise, to position the UK at the forefront of international practice.

'Our aim is to transform the traditional conference feel and build on our festival experience. By ‘connecting more’ delegates can take advantage of the personalised spaces to share best practice with their peers, take part in the interactive sessions, hands-on demos, speakers corner and debates, and feel very much part of the festival action,' explained Martyn Harrow, Jisc’s chief executive.

'Our vision is for the UK to become the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world, and the Jisc Digital Festival will be a great place to showcase how far along that road we already are.

'We know that this event is pivotal in facilitating the sort of information sharing, decision-making and shaping of the digital agenda that will help to take FE, HE and skills to new heights. In creating an open atmosphere that promotes intellectual curiosity and sharing of resources, we are providing a unique platform for achieving excellence through digital technologies for the benefit of all.'

A number of leading organisations in the learning technologies space have already been confirmed as exhibitors – including: software and technology company Digital Science; media streaming and archive solution service, Planet eStream; and Figshare, a cloud repository where users can make all of their research outputs available in a citable, shareable and discoverable manner.

Also at the festival will be the Jisc Fab Lab, which will showcase the latest advancements in digital technologies for education and research through a series of live talks and demonstrations.

Simon Nelson is the first of four keynote speakers to be announced. With a background in digital disruption across a range of sectors, he has won multiple awards for digital innovation and product development, including several Emmys, Webby and Bafta awards for his work at the BBC, where he was a key figure in the development of the corporation’s online and digital services, including the Radio Player and the BBC iPlayer.

Nelson added: 'Free online courses are just one example of how the internet is transforming higher education and its traditional pillars.  The notion of connecting people to ideas lies right at the heart of what FutureLearn does, so I’m looking forward to sharing and debating ideas about the future of the sector with this important audience, using MOOCs as the starting point.'

Early bird tickets are available at www.jisc.ac.uk/digifest until Monday 5 January.