Hughes Hall Bridge Centre

Digital Education Futures Initiative

Our follow-up webinar

At our launch event in January, the theme of the digital divide came up frequently. To examine this issue in more detail, find out what is currently being done to address it, as well as explore ideas for the future, we have invited 4 experts to share their knowledge and answer your questions in our next webinar on Thursday 29th April from 5- 6:30pm BST.

The ‘digital divide’ – what is being done to overcome it and where do we go from here?

  • Would you like to know more about how and where the Digital Divide occurs?
  • What is currently being done to address it at Raspberry Pi, the Welsh Government and the EdTech Hub?
  • How or what could be done in the future?

To explore these issues and answer your questions, join Dr Sara Hennessy and Dr Björn Haßler, Directors of the EdTechHub, Dr Sue Sentence, Chief Learning Officer at Raspberry Pi and Welsh Government advisor on Digital Education and Infrastructure, Prof Tom Crick, for brief presentations and a live Q and A session on Thursday 29th April from 5-6:30pm BST.

To book a ticket and submit your questions go to:

Researching the new possibilities for education that will shape the future.

The Digital Education Futures Initiative (DEFI) works with partners in industry, policy and practice to explore the field of possibilities that digital technology opens up for education. It is both a Centre for this kind of close-to-practice research and also an initiative to create a new Institute at Cambridge to serve as a global hub and thought-leader in this area.

Arm and EPIC Games have provided some initial enabling support. While DEFI would never be an uncritical advocate for the use of more education technology it has a role as a catalyst for innovation and development.

The Launch

Thank you to everyone who attended the DEFI launch event – it attracted over 300 participants and started numerous conversations: as you would expect we are already planning the follow up both on the DEFI website and in future workshops and seminars. If you would like to receive updates about DEFI please consider joining our mailing list by completing the contact form on the website listed above. A recording of the event is available here:


Mapping new pedagogical affordances

DEFI maps the educational logic of the new Internet Age through research that explores the pedagogical affordances of new technologies, which means the ways of teaching and learning that they make possible for education, ways which were either not possible or more difficult to implement before. While some of these affordances have long been noted in the literature, not enough effort has yet been put into research into how they might or might not transform education in the future. Design-based research implements these affordances in working models of education in order to investigate their consequences.

The core business of the Centre is collaborative research projects with industry partners. In addition, depending on the support we receive, this initiative and proposed future Institute, will:

  • Conduct evidence mapping, horizon scanning and future scoping to analyse emerging trends, anticipate their impact and explore new models of education that may have a ‘real world’ impact.
  • Build and support a global community of stakeholders (including academia, education, policy and industry) to explore and develop new models of education and new research priorities arising due to the growing prevalence of digital technology.
  • Work with Cambridge Assessment and other partners to develop innovative ways of assessing important ‘future skills’ and competences (e.g. teamwork, creativity and collaborative problem-solving).
  • Provide a social enterprise support programme for Cambridge PhD students in the area of education and ed-tech preparing them for possible engagement with a range of start-up incubators and accelerators (the details of this programme will be developed in collaboration with Hughes Hall fellow, Professor Paul Tracey, co-director of the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation at the Judge Business School);
  • Host an online-mediated teacher research exchange. This project led by Pete Dudley and Sara Hennessy proposes a platform to support a potentially global network of teachers sharing and developing close-to-practice research. This project builds on and further develops extensive resources informed by cutting-edge research evidence to support the professional learning of teachers through inquiry into their own practice.
  • Host a ‘Virtual Internship’ platform linking schools to enterprises, and other partners such as NGOs, who wish to offer online-mediated educational experiences which at the same time augment the curriculum and offer young people greater engagement with the world of work.

A development period of five years

This initiative seeks to lay the ground for the creation of a permanent institute over the next five years. It is Hughes Hall’s intention that DEFI will become a permanent feature of the global education research community, in the process building a reputation as a thought-leader in the field. Through rigorous research into the affordances and dangers of new models of education made possible by digital technology DEFI will offer and invaluable resource to policy makers globally.


The DEFI Cambridge Team


Twitter – @DEFI_Cambridge

E mail:

Twitter – @DEFI_Cambridge

Drive team
William Conner, Develoment Director
Jude Hannam, Project Coordinator
Louis Major, Principal Researcher
Genevieve Smith-Nunes, Media and Communications Lead
Rupert Wegerif, Director

Classroom Learning Research Exchange
Peter Dudley, Lecturer in Faculty of Education, Fellow of Hughes Hall
Sara Hennessy Reader in Teacher Development and Pedagogical Innovation, Director (Research) FCDO EdTech Hub, Faculty of Education, Fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge






Digital Education Futures for Medical Education

Riikka Hofmann, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, Fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge
Bill Irish, Postgraduate Medical Dean and visiting professor of medical education at Bristol University, East Anglia and Anglia Ruskin universities, Medical Digital Education lead, Fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge

Other team members and advisors

Roni Ajao, Director MRL, Associate Professor Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Management at Anglia Ruskin University, London and Associate of Hughes Hall, Cambridge
Mark Anderson,  Former MD, Pearson UK & Bridge Fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge
Tobias Kohn, Research Associate, Department of Computer Science and Technology, Fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge
Corinne Roughley, Researcher in Digital Humanities & Deputy Senior Tutor of Hughes Hall, Cambridge
Andreas Stylianides, Professor of Mathematics Education, Fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge