Skip to main content

Ewan McIntosh keynote from #swgfl11 @ewanmcintosh

By July 5, 2011No Comments



Ewan’s keynote kicked us off in the morning and he talked with us emphatically about education needing a real boot up the backside, if you’ll excuse the expression. His passion and enthusiasm reminded me greatly of David Keeling and some of his sentiments in his book “Rocket up your class” – the fact that education in Britain needs to bring itself forward in to the 21st century. As mentioned by a few today, it’s about time too…. Some of our learners have already been around for 11 years of the 21st century and the technological age in which we live in is all they know.


Ewan started by telling us an anecdote about how some fantastic learning took place using just some hex screws. The student in question was able to solve a problem related to gravity using these nuts.


This led through to him talking to us about children needing to be taught to be problem finders, not problem solvers. By immersing students in their own learning and enabling them, with the tools we give them, to drive forward their learning, the best possible learning can take place.


He quoted examples of Gever Tulley and the Tinkering School and their activities – these can be seen on TED talks too.


Ewan talked about the importance of mixing up digital and analogue and the importance of sometimes needing a space which isn’t on a screen. The real estate there simply isn’t big enough. Use walls, project corners & post its spread out for ideas – this kind of thing, to give space for thought, creativity and mulling it over time to happen.


He stressed the importance of recording, sharing and disseminating learning….. recording everything in order that the observations can inform inference which can lead to learning.


One of the overriding themes throughout the keynote was the discussion about spaces too:


·        Secret spaces

·        Group spaces

·        Publishing spaces

·        Performing spaces

·        Participation spaces

·        Data spaces

·        Watching spaces


These different spaces were expanded upon as places in which learning could take place, be experienced, enjoyed and embedded, based upon the requirements and varying needs of individuals.


He talked about a timetable from a school in Denmark where there were blocks of time free on the timetable where students choose what lessons they opt in to and attend. He talked about a physical ‘like’ button ala Facebook where delegates from a conference were able to use RFID chip fed blocks to like (or not) a session with a Scottish Politician.


The awesome site: was discussed with some really cool examples shown too.


A fantastic idea used in Edinburgh University library showed a live Word cloud that shows what students are searching for at any given time. I would LOVE to try that!


To finish off – Ewan revisited the idea and importance of DESIGN THINKING. Get kids to think more. ICT is about taking things they’ve done and allowing them to model. Mix analogue and digital. Engagement is key.


These ideas and themes ran through the majority of the day. Ewan McIntosh’s finger, seemingly directly on the pulse of current thinking on education and where it should be. A lesson for Mr Gove perhaps??!


Thanks to Ewan for a cracking session that I have only briefly covered in this post. Apologies for any omissions / errors.


To find out more about Ewan visit his blog here: or follow him on Twitter via @ewanmcintosh 


Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson, @ICTEvangelist. Click here to learn more.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.