This week’s World ORT Hatter Technology Seminar is the first to feature live, interactive video streaming of presentations.
People in Israel, Italy, Mexico, the USA, Switzerland and the UK joined via the Internet the 18 participants from 12 countries who were at ORT House in London to learn from the array of expert presenters.
As in the previous eight seminars, participants are expected to share the knowledge they have acquired with colleagues in their respective schools and colleges but this time the light has been whipped out from under the bushel at the outset.
“We feel that the calibre of presenters and the quality of the seminars are such that we need to maximise their reach and the Internet enables us to do that at no extra cost,” said the Head of World ORT’s Education Department, Daniel Tysman.
Viewers were not simply listening passively to the experts but were able to text them questions and comments in real time.
“It has added a whole new dimension to the experience,” Mr Tysman said. “It’s been very successful and will become a standard feature of our Hatter and Wingate seminars.”
This year, the experts have ably expounded on the theme ‘Learning the Business of Technology’ which focused on entrepreneurship.
However, the broad applicability of the subject was not lost on World ORT President Emeritus Sir Maurice Hatter, who told participants: “Whether your students will ultimately take up careers in the business of technology or whether they will simply be regular consumers in a world dominated by technological advance, the contents of this seminar will be extremely relevant to you.”
Mr Tysman added: “Teaching entrepreneurship is very relevant to ORT’s mission which is to give people the tools to make a living “ﾓ not just to pass exams.”
The theme marked another first for the Hatter Technology Seminar, said World ORT’s Chief Programme Officer, Vladimir Dribinskiy.
“In past years, the Hatter Seminar has introduced new subjects, such as nanotechnology, to educators,”? Mr Dribinskiy said. “This year, we are reflecting the emerging priorities of national organisations.”?
ORT in France, Argentina, Uruguay and the Former Soviet Union have been teaching entrepreneurial skills for some time and this year’s Hatter Seminar is indicative of the desire among other ORT organisations to follow suit, he said.
Participants and Internet viewers gained insights into intellectual property law, learned about cutting-edge initiatives such as enterprise learning programmes, ORT’s partnership with Hewlett-Packard in entrepreneurship education, and the teaching of business-related ethics.
Former pop musician Haydn Insley described the working of Britain’s first “Fab Lab”, or Fabrication Laboratory, which provides access to modern means of invention to schools, businesses and the community.
And there have been tours of the British Library’s ‘Inventing the 21st Century’ exhibition and the National Enterprise Academy.
The first speaker was Simon Aron, co-founder and Managing Director of Eurodata Systems.
Using his own life experience of overcoming severe dyslexia to gain a degree in economics and then start up a business which now employs 165 people, Mr Aron explained what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
“Teachers can spot entrepreneurial traits, for example, hard working, a hunger for knowledge although not necessarily top of the class,” he said. “A student with fantastic sales ability but who isn’t academic is just as good at making money and making a good career as one who can remember every significant date in the Second World War.”
But most of his presentation detailed how changes in technology would rapidly change workplaces, work methods and the labour market.
“The power of laptop and tablets, even handheld mobile devices, is increasing very quickly and with more people working from home and the increasing popularity of ‘cloud computing’ the need for desktop engineers will diminish. Teachers have to be aware of this so that can adapt curricula accordingly and to adapt methods of education,” he said.
Shlomi Sherazky, a mechatronics teacher at Tefen High School in Israel, said he particularly liked Mr Aron’s presentation. Mr Sherazky, who worked for 20 years in Israeli high-tech companies before becoming a teacher, demonstrated to fellow participants how mechatronics projects can create a synergy between learning and business.
“The seminar has introduced me to some very attractive new aspects on turning technology into business,” he said. “I will return to Israel better equipped to help my students enter the working world.”
Mariela Sobrado, who teaches industrial design at ORT Argentina, said the seminar featured a lot of dynamic interaction and said the variety of people attending created a pool of shared experiences which was very positive for professional growth.
“The presenters have given us a complete vision of entrepreneurship,” Ms Sobrado said. “I realise that I didn’t know as much about entrepreneurship as I thought I did and now I have many more tools to share with students so that they can be successful and up-to-date.”
Another participant, Alvaro Ballester, Associate Chair, Business Plan Development, at ORT Uruguay University’s Business School, said that what he was learning was very applicable to what he does in Uruguay.
Among other things, Professor Ballester coordinates the activities of the Business School’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre, which now operates across the university’s fived faculties.
“We want to help our students find a new way to develop careers,” he said. “We want to turn them into entrepreneurs and start their own companies. We want them to be creative, to find new paradigms in performing the professional skills which we have taught them “ﾓ not to be dependent but to strive for freedom.”
World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer said that the seminar was an expression of ORT’s understanding that it should not restrict itself to providing students with the technological knowledge and skills to succeed in the workplace.
“They also need to be given the opportunity to develop skills and attitudes to carry their own concepts to fruition,” Mr Singer said. “Whether as a social entrepreneur or a whiz-kid in technology markets, a strong enterprising spirit and a secure understanding of both business and technology is vital for success.”