"My preferred scenario? I never have to go back to work" - LSE CIO Laura Dawson on tech-driven futures

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Tech to the Future: Laura Dawson, CIO, London School of Economics
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Tech to the Future: Laura Dawson, CIO, London School of Economics

Laura Dawson of the LSE talks to Noel Anderson about the future of technology in education; data platforms (and why we won’t get a global, unified one any time soon); and AI

Has Covid-19 changed the future of technology, or merely accelerated what was already on the horizon? How can we get the general public to see AI as a force for good, rather than thinking of the Terminator films? And just how keen should we be to return to commuting while lodged firmly in someone else's armpit?

To answer these questions and more, we spoke to Laura Dawson, CIO of the London School of Economics, for Delta's Tech to the Future series. In this series, Noel Anderson talks to IT leaders at some of the UK's most recognisable organisations about how technology is impacting their industry, and what the future might bring.

Higher education has faced tough questions in the last 10 months, and face-to-face teaching, or the lack of it, has been a controversial topic. On one hand you have students, who quite rightly point out that they've paid a huge amount of money for personal interaction with their teachers, as well as the wider university experience, and the current situation has denied them both; on the other hand, you have a general public concerned about the spread of the virus who do not want to see any unnnecessary contact, which naturally propagates at universities.

While the short-term future is hard to predict - 2020 saw a host of government U-turns, the exams fiasco and threw light on the worsening digital divide in the country - Dawson makes some forecasts about the mid-term, where we are taking lessons from the effects of the pandemic.

"I think what it will do to education is make it easier for people to learn; they'll flip the way that they learn. So, they'll do all of the kind of, what would have been called chalk-and-talk in the past, they can do that online, and then it's coming together for the more interactive workshop-type stuff that kids need to do, or students need to do. That will be something that we need to think about: how do we make that really work?"

Dawson acknowledges that "The technology's not quite there yet", but says that artificial intelligence could be a game-changer in the future.

"In the student sector, it's about being able to spot a student who may be in a bit of trouble, or maybe needs a bit more help with their studies, maybe is dropping out a little bit more, to be able to identify whether there are wellbeing issues; and because of the wealth of data, using the kind of indicators that AI can pick up on, we can identify where a student might need a bit more intervention from us and maybe stop something from getting worse, far more quickly."

For a full transcript of the video, click here.

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