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08 Jan 2024

TableTalks: The Power of Connection

TableTalks: The Power of Connection

As we head into 2024, there are more digital tools than ever before to help educators connect and excel at work.

But while online learning and connecting has boosted access, accessibility and opportunity, it’s still no replacement for the power of connecting with other professionals face to face.

Research backs this up. A recent study by neuroscientists at Yale University suggests our brains are still most engaged during in-person meetings, and research shows that face-to-face requests are a whopping 34 times more effective than requests sent via email. Reinforcing this, further research shows that cultivating and engaging with professional networks relates to increases in salary and overall career satisfaction.

To harness the human power of face-to-face conversations to support and inspire educators, Bett UK 2024 is championing peer-led discussions, to inspire change and spark ideas through dedicated TableTalks. These roundtables will connect groups of educators from schools, universities and governments, to share personal insights around key areas of focus in an age of rapid change: AI, impactful tech, security in the digital age and the timeless importance of safeguarding staff and student wellbeing.

The AI balancing act

Whether you feel wowed or wary when it comes to AI, its growing prominence in the last 12 months has been impossible to ignore. AI is already sending ripples through the school environment: as well as reshaping early childhood education and providing tailored support for pupils with special education needs, AI is helping teachers assess students’ work, helping to address attainment gaps in higher education, and even easing the burden for school administrators.

The extraordinary scope and evolution of AI means educators have their work cut out just to keep pace and prepare for what’s next. Alongside untold benefits, it also presents new challenges around safety, data privacy, inaccuracy and misuse. TableTalks sessions on AI will give educators and leaders the opportunity to share real-world experiences, strategies and practical advice, so professionals can head into 2024 better equipped to ensure AI is a force for good, whatever their role.

Impactful digital strategy

Educational institutions the world over face the same dilemma: how to choose the right combination of tech and traditional learning to ensure the best of both worlds. Educational leaders must consider everything from the devices students use, connectivity and access and which skills students will need for the future, to new digital tools such as game-based learning and pocket-sized computers which help nurture creativity alongside academic achievement.

TableTalks’ small, peer-group roundtables offer a unique opportunity to cut through the noise, and sound out EdTech innovators, fellow educators and policymakers from near and far who are already championing blended learning.

Responsible roll-out

How do we create safe digital environments for our schools?

What is the safest way to use data to help drive positive behavioural change?

What happens if a college is the target of a cyberattack?

These questions played on the minds of many in 2023, and as we continue to integrate technology further into our educational processes, addressing these concerns will be paramount.

Although every institution is different, engaging in collaborative discussions can achieve what might otherwise take months of online research, trial and error. Honest, informed exchanges can help institutions large and small to understand the risks and put the right protections in place.

Protecting wellbeing

There is a wealth of debate and concern online about the impact of internet use and social media on student wellbeing. Among the more striking statistics emerging from recent research shared by the European Commission, one in three young people reported that they neglect work, family or school regularly due to social media consumption. Add to that the growing risk of eco-anxiety - with 70% of children reporting they were ‘worried about the world they will inherit’ - and the result is a complex mix with potentially serious consequences.

Although extensive guidance is available online to help ensure pupils feel included, valued and supported, coming together to discuss these topics is uniquely powerful. Perhaps this is because developing strong professional networks and openly collaborating on mental health also helps educators themselves to safeguard their own wellbeing. From sharing strategies for getting through difficult times to building a strong support network of peers and mentors, real-world interactions remain vital to cope with the human challenges in our increasingly virtual world.

Building a BETTer education together

Amidst the many changes and challenges educators face lies an incredible opportunity – the opportunity to get together, share and grow stronger through the power of conversation and connection.

Bett 2024 offers educators a unique opportunity to find their footing in this digital age. Through candid discussions with peers, educators can pool their collective wisdom to develop strategies that are both innovative and grounded. By facing the future together, educators can pave the way towards a future where technology serves as a powerful tool to equip students and teachers.

Learn more about the full TableTalks programme here - be sure to sign up to guarantee your place!


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