We opened the season of 2022 conferences and attended the first international conference on educational technologies – IZZI POWER OF EDUCATION which was held in sunny Split, located on the Dalmatian coast and well-known for its heritage, cousine and ancient architecture.
The main goal of this conference was to present the innovative use of digital technologies for upgrading the teaching and learning experience. Lectures were intended for publishers of educational content making and heads of schools who are interested in the potential of digital education.
The conference lasted two days and after the keynote speakers, the program was divided into two tracks, one suited for the digital content makers and the other for the school representatives. The presenters covered numerous topics and went through specific case studies. The main question of the science stage was “Digital education in the future: trend or need?” The panelist agreed that technology is needed, but education should not be only technology-based and it is of great importance to have personal experience and use technology as secondary reality.
Marc Prensky, an American writer and speaker on education stated in his lecture that the current education system is obsolete and needs to be reviewed. He suggested that young people don’t want to wait for education and are accustomed to being in a symbiotic connection with technology. He pointed out that only alongside a symbiotic connection with technology can we fix and address the problems in the future. According to Marc, we need to leave the age of education (20th century) and enter the age of empowerment in the 21st century. Students need to be encouraged to realize their ideas and dreams.
He defined empowerment as self-direction plus personal accomplishment with a positive impact. At the end of the lecture, he stated: “What makes us who we are. He said: “What makes us unique are the personal projects we choose to do in our lives… What empowers us is doing them.”
I must highlight the lecture from professor Ivica Puljak. He talked about “heavy-duty” science but he presented it in the most entertaining way and kept the audience engaged the whole time. He explained to us that everything is made from atoms and that we are all superstars because it only takes one star to break into atoms and build a new human being.
Professor Puljak also answered one of the biggest questions “What is life”, he said that life is the optimal organization of atoms that use the energy of their surroundings. His style of presentation was a prime example of edutainment, education combined with entertainment.
Iva Kosović, a Neuralab UX designer, gave an interesting lecture that highlighted the importance of accessibility in designing digital educational applications. A couple of deck highlights – One billion people, or 15% of the global population experience some form of disability, according to the World Bank Group.
There are three forms of disability that can impact the use of the application:
Iva pointed out five key elements that need to be taken into account when designing an accessible web application.
- A clear hierarchy of what is important to the user
- Good color contrast
- Alt text which can describe the visual content into text-based one
- Implementing a focus state that helps keyboard users and people who use assistive technology
- Adding video captions and audio transcripts will help people to consume the video content
Iva finished her presentation with a powerful message for all of us, UX designers, developers, content and decision-makers. She said that one bad experience for the general user is usually much worse for the disabled or impaired one. Everyone deserves an equal and accessible education experience, so be aware of the importance of accessibility (A11Y).
And last but not least, arguably the most important things at any conference – the food and atmosphere! The organization of the whole event was really exquisite, they have thought out everything in detail. Everything was based in the luxurious Radisson Blu Hotel, where the food was so good, that it was hard not to go back again, and again. Supposedly the pancakes with extra chocolate were a total hit. On Friday we were taken to a gala dinner in the historic center of Split. The dinner had a twist :), we were deliberately seated with unfamiliar people which brought networking to another level. The host took it a step further and organized yet another surprise, we were honored to hear the authentic Dalmatian klapa singing.
The menu and the food were mind-blowing, I think I should finish with my writing and leave you with the image of good food, good company and smiling faces. The organization promised that this conference would be a tradition and we believe that they will keep the promise 😀