Online Educa Berlin 2017: Resources and comment round up

Jo Cook takes a look at all of the resources and conversations that occurred during the OEB17 conference.

I used to greet every December with joy as it’s nearly Christmas. Now I greet it with even more joy as I know it’s time for the Online Educa Berlin conference! It’s a large European conference with over 20 years under its belt. Largely and originally based around online education, it now also has a business stream, Business Educa, which is where TJ spent most of its time.

Uncertain times

The main theme of this year’s OEB was uncertainty, which was the main theme of the presentation from me as a session speaker too. More on that later, including a webinar you can attend in January.

There were six sub-themes for this large conference: adapting for action; collaborating to compete; redefining learning technology; designing to engage; enhancing new skills learning; and made to measure learning. Each of these sub themes were explored in some short podcasts with myself and editor Jon

I wrote a couple of blogs ahead of the conference, one about our own self development and one on technology in L&D.

The opening keynote on the first main day of the conference was all about the main theme, learning uncertainty. First, Aleks Krotoski took to the stage. Krotoski is a social psychologist and broadcaster at the Guardian, UK and spoke about storytelling.

There were some amusing references, especially if you are of a certain age and remember some of the social references. Ultimately, the point came down to people having a say in a shared story.

The second speaker in the opening keynote was Abigail Trafford, author and leader in the Movement to Fight Ageism, USA. This was an interesting delivery about an ageing workforce and planet, asking what the curriculum is as we age. Whilst this wasn’t one of the major themes for the conference, it surprisingly came up again and again.

The last speaker at the keynote, which was packed with over 2,000 attendees, was Pasi Sahlberg, Educator, Author and Changemaker, from Finland. He delivered an interesting and thought-provoking presentation about the future of schooling at the old systems we base our schooling on. It was also fun, as this video tweet shows:

Throughout the two day conference Jon and I shared summaries, thoughts and reflections via live video platform Periscope. You can watch these to get a feeling for what went on. Summary of the opening keynote

The opening keynotes and the spotlight stage videos are also available to view on the OEB website.

Removing the uncertainty

A highlight of OEB for me was being a speaker! I spoke last year about the #TJwow webinar success – you can see the webinar version of that presentation on our recordings page.

The session I delivered focused on the skills we need for the future of our profession. You can see the live Periscope video of it here and also register for the free longer, interactive webinar to discuss the issues further.

There were more sessions that we attended, tweeted about from @TrainingJournal and @LightbulbJo on #OEB17.

This Periscope video shows a tired Jon and I summarising the first day.

Workplace focus

Day two had two, slightly smaller, opening keynotes. We were to the workplace learning-focused event and heard from Heather McGowan, who focuses on the future of work and the future of learning, from the USA. A lot of her session looked at the various numbers and statistics at how our future is changing and what it might look like.

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Patrick King is the Insights Lead, Learning Solutions at LinkedIn, again from the USA. The insights were from LinkedIn data, highlighting their view of data analytics and other programming and AI elements being strong in the future. This wasn’t a European, or even a broad view of data, it was heavily focused on the careers seen on the LinkedIn website.

The last speaker was undoubtedly the best value, Alan Ryan, Technology Enhanced Learning Lead for HEE and National Programme Director for HEE e-LfH in the UK. Ryan focused very much on the skills and technology needed in an everyday sense for the behemoth that is the NHS. Aside from what he delivered, it was also how Ryan delivered, funny and got us dancing too!

Some quick thoughts after the opening keynote, on the live Periscope video – which sadly does get cut off at the end due to the bandwidth dropping out – sorry!

But don’t panic, after some other sessions Jon and I caught up at lunch time for a review – watch out for the lady interrupting us off camera for us to look after her bag!

Wrapping up

The end of the conference had Laura Overton and Charles Jennings, both on the steering committee for the Business Educa stream, reviewing and summarising what people had learnt, as well as getting feedback for the future.

You can see the Periscope wrap up from myself and Jon as well as a final reflection with Laura Overton.

It’s never over

Aside from the videos on the OEB website, mentioned earlier, there are also some audio podcast interviews that we did at OEB which we are publishing now, so you can go and listen to some of the speakers and people involved in more detail.


About the author

Jo Cook is the deputy editor of Training Journal. Contact her on Twitter @LightbulbJo or email



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