Frontiers without Learning *updated*

The Learning Without Frontiers Summit London has been canned. Graham Brown-Martin has been canned from LWF. The reasons for these unfortunate changes are still yet to emerge, and I do not want to spend time eulogising Graham (others will do this better) or speculating why this happened.

I want to propose something positive – to continue the vision in a new event.

The reality is there is now a huge gap in the calendar for those of us involved in evolving, informing, and disrupting educational norms for the benefit of our young people. Not only has an essential event in the calendar been taken from us: with the opportunities to hear from leading voices, see best practice, play with new devices and tools, and (most of all) network; but the distinct vision of the event is in danger of being lost.

My view is that the success of LWF, and it’s forebears, Handheld Learning and Games Based Learning, all of which I have been lucky to attend, had very little do with the venue, speakers and formal agenda.

It had everything to do with the challenge and disruption implicit in the way the event was established by the founder, Graham Brown-Martin.

The irrepressible Graham Brown-Martin has always been determined to push the boundaries of what a formal education conference can be – and to drive as much energy for transformation into the education system as possible. Graham made mistakes and upset a few people on the way. Like all innovators,…right?

BUT, he always shared the warmth to support great educators who are helping demonstrate the value of a progressive education for the future our children will be co-creating. Highlights include seeing Derek Robertson and the Consolarium gang storm South and make us all #jealousofScotland, and Dawn Hallybone inspire teachers everywhere to get gaming!

I was inspired to by LWF to bring disruption and offer new positive educational futures to the families of Oxford, and have led a proposal for a progressive new school for Oxford City – ONSchool. I know many other people, in schools, communities, business and policy, inspired to do something amazing by the power of the vision of Graham’s events.

So, where next? I think we need to hold onto the vision Graham established, and hold a new event, on an unconference / barcamp / teachmeet model – where the same sharing, networking, playing can happen.

We don’t need elaborate spaces in expensive venues, big name speakers, bijou lunch plates, and huge corporate partners – with the associated high ticket prices! Let’s have less sitting and listening – and more making and doing.

All we need is the vision, and a space to explore what it means in the work that we do.  So – I propose we continue this. I would love to work with others to make it happen.

Who’s in?

23 thoughts on “Frontiers without Learning *updated*

  1. Jonathan @jnxyz

    Hi Eylan – tho I’m still partly in shock mode of the terrible way LWF has been treated by its ‘acquirers’ – and tho I’m from the other side of the globe, I have decided to hold off on cancelling my flights as I discuss with some others a small alternative (and highly focused) event – will share more about it soon hopefully! Have you got anywhere with your plans?

    1. Eylan Post author

      Thanks for this comment. We are working on ideas, and will get some kind of comment / statement out ASAP. Still reeling too, and trying to focus on what is possible while holding on to the best aspects of the event we love. Sorry I cannot be more concrete. Watch this space.

  2. Jenny Ashby

    Yes and I have posted on the linkedin site that I’m in. I’ve already been putting out some feelers for a venue which is a tad difficult from Australia. Same thoughts no vendors, low cost, BYOC (catering) TMish and workshops. People donate their time for themselves as much as others. Learning without Fear!

  3. Kevin McLaughlin

    Eylan, you’ve nailed it on the head – more making and doing. Tom Barrett has recently launched Edumaker, an online gathering of like minded educators to make great educational material and do great teaching and learning with it then report back the findings. Every 2 weeks the ideas are hashed out, discussed then used and hashed over again (or so I’d like to think).
    A conference along LWF’s (Graham’s) visionary lines is required and I shall support and help in whatever way I can.

  4. fred garnett

    I’m up for stuff, I think it is not just learning without frontiers but could be about participatory learning and include policy outcomes. Ever since Nigel Ecclesfield & presented Policy 2.0 at CAL ’07 based on participatory techniques we had developed in government (Becta) we think any conference can produce policy by capturing the conversations at the event. It’s kind of ‘the wisdom of smart crowds’ (or people with a professional interest in the conference subject). We call the technique a Policy Forest and which we have run a few times, most effectively on Sustaining Innovation;
    It means you can summarise any conference in policy terms and feed those outcomes to policy-makers, MPs, into the current discourse.
    We’ve got other techniques but would happily do this for a new Learning Without Fear (or similar) start-up

    1. Eylan Post author

      Policy Forest??? Sounds perfect for some of the themes we have been thinking of.
      First step is to get this idea moving – and it would be fantastic to have someone with your expertise and sense of fun on board!
      Will update you with details by email, hopefully over the weekend
      Thanks again Fred.

    1. Eylan Post author

      Hey Alan! There is ALWAYS a geographical slant…. It depends where you stand… right??
      As an unconference, you can create that perspective and bring people to see it. Do you want to be involved getting this up and running or more as being involved in the event itself?
      Either way – thanks loads :)

  5. Miles

    Late coming to this party, I know, but what a splendid idea!
    Loved the tweets and feed coming from LWFs, but could never afford the cost of Being There.
    Barcamp / Hackfest sounds v fab, esp if costs kept low, so please add my name to The List.

  6. David Rogers

    Have to say that while I found LWF inspirational, I don’t think it was hugely accessible to the ‘common or garden’ classroom / small school practitioner. However, I loved the disruptive nature and challenging speakers.

    Count me in for any plans to put together a successor. Happy to create / help in any way I can :-)


  7. Tony Parkin @tonyparkin

    About the only thing I’m good at making is a fool of myself… but did that at all Graham’s events, so why not here too? I’m in… #betterlatethannever #thoughsomemayhavepreferredmenever 😉


Leave a Reply