By @SimonCocking. interview with Rebecca A. Stromeyer, about the OEB MidSummit, which will take place in June in Reykjavik, see more about the event here.  She is Managing Director of ICWE. ICWE is organizer and owner of leading educational conferences:  OEB, the global, cross-sector conference on technology supported learning and training December 6 – 8, 2017Berlin, Germany, eLearning Africa, the 12th International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training and OEB MidSummit.


 What is your own background and your interests?

I come from a very international family and have lived in different places all over the world. Actually, although I have German and Australian nationality, I have a lot of Irish blood. My great-grandfather on my mother’s side was William Bernard MacCabe, who was born in Donnybrook, Dublin. He was the son of Sir Francis Xavier MacCabe, a brain surgeon, and the grandson of another William Bernard MacCabe, who was a well-known journalist and historical novelist. He was also the author of ‘A Catholic History of England’.

My great-grandfather studied engineering at Trinity College, Dublin and became the head of the Dublin Waterworks, a job which led to him being offered free Guinness for life! Later, he became the chief engineer of the City of Calcutta in India. He designed and built the Tallah Waterworks, which are still in use today. One of my great-great-grandfathers, William Gore Brett, was an Ulster policeman, who had served in the Royal Irish Constabulary. He emigrated to Australia, became a county sheriff, the inspector general of penal establishments and the inspector of charitable institutions He was a great prison reformer especially for female prisoners, but his real claim to fame is that he was instrumental in the capture of Ned Kelly, whom he pursued into the Wombat Ranges. He was present at Kelly’s famous last stand in Glenrowan, Victoria in 1880.

So, as you can tell, I’m very proud of my Irish ancestry!

I got interested in the education business because of my father. He was an educational entrepreneur who set up language schools and adult education centres in the Arab world in the 1960s and he always encouraged me to take an active role in the family business. In the late 80s, I worked for his publishing company, which produced guide books on studying abroad. During my time there, he was asked to do a language exhibition and I became involved in the events side of the business. In 2001, I decided to set up my own company, specialising in exhibitions and conferences in the education sector.

This year is the 23rd anniversary of our main event – OEB, the global, cross-sector conference on technology supported learning and training, which brings together more than 2300 delegates from over 90 countries worldwide.

One aspect I find particularly fascinating about the topic of education is that education is the key to overcoming inequality, with technology serving as a key enable to access of it. I am also interested in some of the international development and global political issues affecting education.

What is the inspiration behind the OEB MidSummit?

We wanted to create an event that is smaller, more intimate and less formal than OEB but, at the same time, brings together the same brilliant learning and technology professionals as its big sister event. Our aim is to stimulate creativity, discussion and the development of new ideas. We really want to bring together leading experts, thinkers, innovators and practitioners from all over the world and from all sorts of backgrounds to examine and discuss the future of learning. It will be an exciting opportunity for profound reflection about some of the most pressing issues in education and training and a very interactive event.

Reykjavik is not only a great conference venue because of its striking nature. It’s also midway between Europe and America and, therefore, the perfect international meeting point. Moreover, Scandinavia has always been a pioneer in educational technology and e-learning and Iceland has a long history when it comes to education and technology supported learning. Reykjavik will be, in many ways, an inspiring location to hold the MidSummit. And let’s be honest, who is not looking for an excuse to book a trip to Iceland?

What exciting things can people look forward to the OEB MidSummit? Who will be speaking?

MidSummit will address a range of issues arising from the digital transformation of learning in both educational institutions and the workplace, offering expert perspectives and showcasing some exciting technological solutions. There will be a great deal of exciting new formats that are designed to encourage discussion and inspire free thinking in both formal and informal settings. The event offers the opportunity to engage with novel ideas and to take part in conversations about the implications of technological change, as it continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible.

We are very happy to have some of the most interesting education experts, Edtech entrepreneurs, analysts and policy makers from around the world speaking at OEB MidSummit. They include commentator on the digital revolution Andrew Keen who is the author of “The Internet Is Not The Answer”, producer of Futurecast and host of TechcrunchTV’s INNOVATE2016. He is particularly known for his views on how the current Internet culture undermines the authority of learned experts. Also education technology writer Audrey Watters “ed-tech’s Cassandra” will be speaking at the event. Since 2010, her blog and her website Hack Education have been chronicling the ups and downs of the e-learning scene, while in 2016 she published the latest in her series of collections of public talks grouped round the theme of the “monsters of education technology”. In her writing she often holds up the industry’s future promises against its past failures.

Just to name a few other programme highlights:

  • Donald Clark (Plan B Learning, UK) and Roger Schank (Socratic Arts & XTOL (USA) will talk about the best ways to ensure both fairness and excellence in education and training.
  • In a ‘Knowledge Factory’ with Larry Ragan, chief academic learning officer of The Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning of Penn State University, USA, participants will use their unique skills and experience to help solve teaching and learning challenges.
  • Chris Donnelly (director of the Institute for Statecraft and Governance, UK) and Harold Elletson (senior fellow of the Institute for Statecraft) will lead a discussion on disinformation, fake news and the need for the teaching of discernment.
  • Karl Friðriksson (managing director of the Innovation Center, Iceland) will present future learning and training scenarios using foresight techniques.
  • Author and neuroscientist Harold Bekkering of the Radboud University, The Netherlands, will give a neuroscience perspective on how our brains and learning mechanisms work.

What opportunities are on offer for people attending your event?

Nowadays, attending conferences is not so much about getting information on a particular topic. Usually, the information is already out there on the internet, available to anyone. However, conferences offer to people – and this is particular true for such an intimate and interactive event as the OEB MidSummit – the opportunity to network and to get properly engaged in the community and with the topics.

It is crucial to meet fellow experts and educators from the field to hear about new ideas and have your own ideas challenged in order to develop your thoughts. At OEB MidSummit, attendees will have plenty of opportunities to do that! Some of the most interesting learning and technology professionals from the corporate, education and public sectors from around the world will be there. Our unique Matchmaking Platform will enable participants to create a personal agenda, including targeted meetings with new potential collaboration partners based on their specific profiles and needs.

What tips would you give to people attending to get the most out of it?

I would advise them to use our Matchmaking Platform, in order to meet as many of the leading figures from the learning and technology scene as possible. And then, I think, everybody should make sure to get the most out of their trip to Iceland; enjoy the midnight sun and the absolutely stunning landscape!

OEB MidSummit

When: June 8 – 9, 2017

Where: Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, Suðurlandsbraut 2, 108 Reykjavik, Iceland

The MidSummit is a two day Mid-Atlantic event which will explore the complexity of learning in the digital era through multidisciplinary perspectives.

Speakers will include, amongst others, workplace learning leader Niyazi Arda Aygul – Isbank (Turkey), neuroscientist Harold Bekkering – Radboud University (The Netherlands), commentators on the digital revolution Andrew Keen, Penn State Chief Academic Learning Officer Andrew Shean – The Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning, Penn State University (USA), education foresight researcher Tryggvi Thayer – School of Education, University Of Iceland , Roger Schank, leading visionary in artificial intelligence and education technology writer Audrey Watters – Hack Education (USA)
OEB Insights:

Twitter:, #OEB_MidSummit


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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