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Queen Mary Academy

Drapers' Lecture

The Future of Digital Education

Professor Sian Bayne delivered the 15th annual Drapers’ Lecture in Learning and Teaching on Wednesday 24 March 2021.

A recording of this year's Drapers' Lecture is now available. You can also access the references in this Google doc.


About Professor Sian Bayne

Sian Bayne is Professor of Digital Education and Director of Education at the Edinburgh Futures Institute ( She directs the Centre for Research in Digital Education (, where her research is currently focused on higher education futures, interdisciplinary approaches to researching digital education and digital pedagogy. She is one of the authors of The Manifesto for Teaching Online, recently published by MIT Press (

She led the Near Future Teaching project to design a values-based future for digital education, the final report of which is available here ( More information about her work is on her web site at:

Sian gives regular keynotes on the future of digital education, publishes widely and has conducted research funded by UKRI, Erasmus+, AdvanceHE and NESTA.


My keynote will discuss a range of possible futures for digital education as we emerge out of COVID-19. I will discuss some of the emergent sector-wide trends we are seeing, and explore how these might impact on the way we think about teaching within universities.

I will discuss a particular example of digital education ‘futures’ work I led at the University of Edinburgh. This aimed to enable a wide conversation to take place among students and staff around how we would like to see digital education grow over the coming decades, and from that to build a vision for the university which balances technological change with the values of our academic and student body.

By sharing lessons from this work and from research and development across the sector I will argue that, post-COVID, academic communities need to be active in defining a preferred future according to our values, at a time when rapid technological change is often assumed to be driving the way we teach and learn.