Graham Brown-Martin

Graham Brown-Martin



Founder, Education Design Labs (EDLabs)
Founder, Learning Without Frontiers (LWF)

Graham Brown-Martin has had a largely do-it-yourself education. Expelled from school at age 15 for what he describes as "entrepreneurial activities with organic chemistry", he has been variously a software developer, punk musician, and multimedia entrepreneur during the dotcom boom. "I was very wealthy for about a nanosecond, and then I wasn't," he says.

In 2005, he founded Learning Without Frontiers, an NGO to foster the use of digital technologies in education. Earlier this year he left to found a new venture, Education Design Labs. He is now in the midst of a world tour to study the implementation of digital technology everywhere from Silicon Valley to western Africa.

Graham feels that until now, digital learning has largely failed, because its users have lost sight of the big picture. When designers fashion a new consumer product, their first questions are always who the product is for, and what it's supposed to do. Educators don't ask those questions, he says—but they should.

By 2030, our mobile devices are likely to be so powerful that they can do things we can't even imagine today, and the educational system will have to take that into account and stress how to make wisest use of that power. "As we have more technology, education will have to become more about humanity and developing our consciences," he says. The real innovations, he suggests, may come from developing countries, not rich nations.

On a personal note, Graham has an extensive collection of toy robots, including—for Dr. Who fans—an armoured Dalek.