Bright sparks to make Dublin summit a 'Davos for students'
When TCD student Georgie Smithwick first enrolled in college, she quickly discovered the course she had applied for was not as described. “I ended up switching courses and transferring to TCD. I realised a student who had done the course would have been able to tell me the ins and outs of it better than a prospectus, so went about setting up an online review site.”
The (now) 23-year-old founded Coursehub, which went live in 2011, and has since attracted more than 15,000 student reviews of colleges and CAO courses. Smithwick, who is one of Ireland’s youngest female entrepreneurs, will address some of the world’s brightest students in Dublin this week, as part of the UA Summit, which takes place from November 7th-9th.
Dubbed a “Davos for students”, the conference will serve as a three-day pop-up incubation centre for some of the world’s most exceptional young minds, according to UA programme director Louise Hodgson. “From hands-on workshops and talks with inspiring young achievers, entrepreneurs and academics to networking events with top graduate recruiters, the UA Summit is going to be one of the most exciting student-focused events in Europe designed to fast-track the careers of the high-potential attendees.”
As part of the three days of events, UA will also host the Forum on Higher Education, which will bring together leaders, pioneers and academics from the four corners of the globe to discuss disruptive education and the impact of technology on traditional approaches to learning.
Conference speakers include Conrad Wolfram, who was recently named as one of Britain’s 50 New Radicals for his disruptive theories on maths education; Start-up Britain founder Rajeeb Dey, who at 26 is the World Economic Forum’s youngest ever young global leader; and author Kyra Maya Phillips who recently researched the similarities between Google and gangsters. Her book The Misfit Economy, due to be published by Simon Schuster in 2014, looks at what the black market can teach the public about innovation.
Also speaking at the UA Summit will be Hannes Klöpper, one half of the founding team behind iversity, a cloud-based higher education course management platform.
The beta version of the platform, which allows lecturers to organise courses, research projects and conferences, attracted around 12,500 users from more than 80 higher education institutions. Launched last year, the official version has 55,000 users in Germany, India and the US, among other countries.
The platform also provides students with tools for interaction and collaboration, something that the founders felt was lacking during their own studies, according to Klöpper. Iversity also created a “social reading” feature, which allows users annotate, highlight and have conversations in the margins of PDF documents.
The 28-year-old – who co-authored a book The University in the 21st century - Teaching the New Enlightenment at the Dawn of the Digital Age, which was published two weeks ago – said iversity intended to develop its platform to provide online courses. “I am very interested in the impact of technology on education. At iversity we are watching very closely what is happening in the US with regard to the recent surge in online courses. People are starting to embrace them more and thousands of people are signing up.