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The Learning Revolution

In an uncertain world, our education system needs to be redesigned to address the challenges the world is facing. The learning revolution has begun and across the globe there are those who are reshaping and reframing education to ensure learners develop the skills, attitudes and behaviours to thrive in this seemingly unknowable future.

In late 2020 SERC hosted an international conference to explore “The Learning Revolution”. Throughout the two days talks and discussions, it became clear that collaborative conversations are critical. To prompt and support these conversations the materials from the conference are available and accessible through this site.


Image of Speaker Julie Wilson

Julie Wilson

Julie Margretta Wilson is a coach and advisor to school leaders, educational institutions, and foundations whose mission is to shape the future of education. She has over twenty years’ experience building effective learning environments that unlock human potential and enable organizational culture to adapt and grow during times of change.

She is the founder and executive director of Institute for the Future of Learning, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping transform the 'one size does not fit all' model of education. The Institute works with a diverse range of clients including public schools, independent schools, public charter schools, and educational philanthropic organizations.

Julie graduated from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education with a master’s degree in technology, innovation, and education, and a bachelor’s of arts in business administration and French from Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Her book, 'The Human Side of Changing Education' was published by Corwin Press.

Image of Speaker Julie Wilson

Image of Speaker Olly Newton

Image of Speaker Olly Newton

Olly Newton

Olly Newton spent 12 years in the Department for Education working on policies including 14-19 diplomas, raising the participation age and finally as Head of Apprenticeship Strategy.

Olly is now Executive Director of the Edge Foundation, where he oversees a programme of primary research, is lead author on all of the charity’s policy reports and runs the Edge Future Learning delivery programme for schools and colleges.

In his spare time, Olly volunteers with the Scout Association, is Enterprise Adviser for Firth Park Academy and supports community theatre in Sheffield.

Image of Speaker Michael Malone

Michael Malone

Director of Curriculum and Information Services

Michael studied for a B.Sc. and M.Sc. at Queen’s University Belfast and for A Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering at the University of Ulster. He has published papers at Conferences and refereed journals and was an author for two magazines from 1994-1998.

He has worked in Further Education for 39 years, 24 years as a Lecturer in Electronic Engineering, Computing and CAD and 15 years as a senior manager and has gained a wide range of experiences in teaching, management and leadership.

Over the last 20 years He has focused on the development and integration of proprietary student management systems with bespoke solutions to create and integrated and intuitive experience for students and staff.

He won the Northern Ireland BT Award for IT innovation in 2002 and has won 3 BECTA National awards during his management career in 1998, 2010 and 2015 in the innovative use of IT systems in Teaching and Learning.

He has developed many international partnerships in the area of Project Based Learning (PBL) and Entrepreneurship. This Includes the international partnership on engineering training called CDIO (Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate) as well as with TA3 (Trans Atlantic Technology and Training Alliance). He has developed close links with experts at TKNIKA in the Basque Country. He works with the Edge Foundation and serves as a member on their international experts group on PBL.

As Director of Curriculum and Information Services he currently manages the entire curriculum within SERC as well as all computing and information systems. The College has 4,500 full-time students and 8000 part-time students across 50 disciplines. These include further education, apprenticeships, higher education and special needs. He has implemented PBL and entrepreneurship across all these disciplines.

Image of Speaker Michael Malone

Conference Keynotes

Julie Wilson - The Human Side of Changing Education

Julie Wilson shares how in a highly disruptive decade, there is the opportunity to consider what is worth learning, what needs to change and how can transformation be enabled.

Download Presentation

Olly Newton & Michael Malone

Olly and Michael Address the challenges of changing the system of education and outlining the benefits to learners and the business community

Download Presentation

Panel discussion

The Panel address key issues raised in the four workshops during day one of the conference

Learning Revolution day Two

Learning Revolution - Changing the Curriculum

Learning Revolution - Skills for the Future

Image of a digital Toolkit

Learning Revolution Toolkit

Resources from the Learning Revolution conference are available as you start to frame your own story and we would encourage you to partner with us to reshape the future of education.

Project Based Learning

SERC has made a significant shift from the traditional approach to education to a new model which will better meet the shortages and gaps identified by the NI Skills Barometer. To address this SERC have created a Project Based Learning (PBL) model that is based on Stanford’s CDIO initiative and the challenge-based learning model in the Basque Country VET network.

SERC's 12 step PBL process

Image of a SERC's 12 step PBL process

The rationale behind the model is that of a guide for staff and students, which supports the creation and delivery of real-world learning, whilst ensuring that the fundamentals of PBL are interwoven throughout each project. The model is agile, non-prescriptive and therefore, the potential to amalgamate some of the steps is available dependent on the breadth and duration of the project, with staff acting as facilitators or guides on the sides.

Case Studies

Golden Memories

Logo of SERC's Student Company Golden Memories

During the PBL Enterprise Fortnight students from the School of Health and Social Care pitched their project “Golden Memories” - the opening of a day care provision on the SERC Downpatrick campus, for adults from the local area aged 65 and over experiencing isolation, to a panel of industry experts. The concept, range of activities offered, cross-cutting agenda, multidisciplinary approach, pitch, market research, financial forecasting and the projected impact on the local community met all the judging criteria, ensuring a place in the Enterprise Showcase Finals, where Golden Memories were named overall winners in the ‘Social Enterprise Category’. This prestigious event was live streamed on YouTube.

Download Golden Memories Case Study

College Kitchen

Image of an event featuring the SERC's College Kitchen catering trailer

The SERC Hospitality and Catering team demonstrate their commitment to PBL, enterprise and entrepreneurship when they put their innovative idea to up-cycle a disused horse box into action. Having conceived and designed, staff and students went on to implement and operate - the College Kitchen Food Truck. This multipurpose vehicle, provides hospitality, catering and business students with the opportunity to research culinary concepts appropriate to commercial events and festivals, enabling learners to establish their business venture, famously appearing at a local Snow Patrol Concert.

Download College Kitchen Case Study

Enterprise & Entrepreneurship

SERC has invested in an enterprising and entrepreneurial approach to learning which is embedded within and promoted through the PBL model. The introduction of Enterprise Fortnight in 2016 to the student induction process naturally created opportunities, through engagement in real-world challenges, for all students to become immersed in the PBL methodology. Working in teams to generate solutions that were identifiable as a product, service or innovation, students, empowered by stakeholder feedback, were inspired to realise the potential of their ideas as commercial opportunities.

The academic year ending August 2020 saw 84 student companies come to fruition through the support of the Enterprise, Entrepreneurship and Environment Departments team of Innovation Advisors. The thriving Entrepreneur Club, backed by the Innovation Advisors, offers a bespoke wrap around service for students and alumni to develop their businesses.

Browse our Student Companies

Enterpise Fortnight

Enterprise Showcase Final 2019 Live

Join The Discussion

The networking group will be available early January. We will notify attendees when it is availble.