EDUTECH conference Brisbane 2014


I recently attended the Edutech conference in Brisbane. With its array of fabulous speakers, opportunities to network and possibilities to catch up with educational suppliers of everthing “IT”, it was a great experience. Some reflections from a few of the sessions that I attended and speakers that I heard will follow in subsequent blogs. In the meantime here are my reflections on our first two keynote speakers.

From a hole in the wall to the cloud: engaging your students to fulfil their sense of wonder and passion for Learning.
Sugata Mitra
Professor of Educational Technology, Newcastle University & ‘global education superstar’

Prof. Mitra spoke enthusiastically about the results shown when students’ capacities are fostered to learn on their own and teach each other. He encouraged us to try to move beyond knowledge to an era of learning based upon imagination, creation and asking new questions. He highlighted the importance of collaboration.
Previously school system did not encourage creativity as the workforce discouraged anything other than rote and routine. Mitra pondered whether the current pedagogy, curriculum and assessment can produce creative children or whether we need a different style or indeed something totally different. If not we are not just producing children who will not be relevant in the skillsets demanded by future employment but will in fact be unemployable. He asked is knowledge obsolete, when answers to knowledge based questions can be so easily accessed. Emphasis on knowledge based assessment can also wire students to the reptilian component of the brain which sees things as threats and learning is not as great.

His talk emphasised for me that we need to move to 1 to 1 devices carefully so that students aren’t starved of the opportunities to collaborate in their learning. Our future classes should
• Foster students’ capacities to learn on their own and teach each other
• Move beyond knowledge to an era of learning based upon imagination, creation and asking new questions – ask: Do you think it could be wrong? rather than saying: That is wrong
• Interact with the cloud as the new domain of intelligence and learning
• Support students to connect with information and mentors online
• Relevance is important where skills and employability are concerned
• Self organised learning environments (SOLE) when asking the right questions can instil in students a desire to learn and overcome disengagement
However in slight disagreement, without some knowledge how do we ensure that what we are learning is in fact relevant and authoritative?

Embracing innovation in education.
Anthony Alcito Vice President Worldwide education Microsoft (USA)
Anthony Alcito began his presentation by asking the questions: Are we making transformation holistically? Are we developing a culture of innovation not just focussing on the acquisition of technology? He proposed that we should be encouraging holistic learning, with learning occurring both inside and outside the classroom, we need students to produce and create things not just rote respond. It is time to shift the pedagogy rather than acquiring and adapting to the technology, to deep learning projects
He suggested that when we are our helpful best, students are not learning as much but we should be promoting a curriculum of questions, peer assessment and certification without examinations.
Alcito introduced software :
Corinth Classroom which is a creator of learning objects and is aiming to put maximum creative power into teachers’ hands with minimum effort and enabling high-quality digital content easier than ever to integrate into the classroom. Choose among hundreds of objects, developed in conjunction with research universities, spanning a wide spectrum of subjects and integrate them into your own projects in minutes.
OSLO the capability of modeling a wide range of reflective, refractive and diffractive components. In addition, OSLO is used to simulate and analyze the performance of optical systems. OSLO’s CCL (Compiled Command Language), which is a subset of the C programming language, can be used to develop specialized optical and lens design software tools for modeling, testing, and tolerancing optical systems. There is a free education version available.
TEACH Intel® Teach is a proven program that helps K–12 teachers integrate technology effectively into classrooms and promote student-centered approaches, engaging students in learning and preparing them with critical skills for success in our digital world. It aims for transformational learning.
In summing up Alcito insisted:
• change is about people and culture,
• research matters,
• we should expect more from technology
• We must use data effectively
• It is essential that we empower teachers and
• Relevance is imperative – skills must be linked to employability

Value of libraries

It was very pleasing to see Kathleen Noonan’s praise of libraries in her column in the Courier Mail last Saturday. She shares the joy she feels coming home with a bundle of new books from her local library. Kathleen also shares a very interesting research finding from a study commissioned by the UK’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport which determined that “going to the library gives people the same kick as receiving a pay rise does – £1359 ($2560) exactly. The study concluded there was a significant association between frequent library use and reported wellbeing.” It is wonderful to see the girls at St Rita’s utilising our library facilities, but we need to ensure that the ever invasive mobile phonesmart_phone_media_icons_400_clr_9121 does not detract from the wonderful benefits reading can bring, but instead opens the girls up to even more possibilities for reading. Book chats, book promotions, new book purchases, old book recycling sales and book displays will always be a major part of my library.school_child_absorbing_book_knowledge_400_clr_12353

Encouraging failure

We have been talking lately about how students can learn a great deal from failure, when encouraged and how constant success can in fact do more harm than good. David Dockterman in this article, Three Ways to Foster Productive Failure provides some suggestions for encouraging productive failure in the classroom.
Three ways to foster productive failure

Blog changes

Following a recent staff meeting on AITSL standards and our REAP documents, I have decided to adapt my blog to reflect these requirements of my job. I have started a new blog for teacher resources under the banner of our myLibrary webpage – the home page for the St Rita’s College library and it is here that I will post new resources that teachers may find useful. I had already commenced a blog on this page for library news and new resources for students, myLibrary blog, so the teacher’s blog is a natural extension. A link to the myLibrary Teachers’ blog can be found on the teachers’ page of myLibrary. The student blog is in a more prominent position on the home page. Feel free to follow if interested. My blog will also include particular posts of interest to the field of school librarianship. The changes to my blog will take place over the coming weeks.

You’ve been misled on boat people : here are the facts

Barrister and human rights advocate Julian Burnside says foreign minister Bob Carr is misrepresenting the facts on asylum seekers. He points out the asylum seekers do not commit any offence by coming here. Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights every person has the right to seek asylum in any territory they can reach. It is a dismal reflection of the state of politics that Mr Morrison frequently refers to asylum seekers arriving by boat as “illegals”. He knows it is a blatant lie, but he also knows that it works.
Read more….

Here are the facts