EduTech 2015

Earlier this month on 2-3 June 2015, our entire teaching staff attended the 5th Annual EduTech National Congress and Expo at the Brisbane Convention Centre. EduTech is the only event that brings together the entire education and training sector and is the largest education event in the southern hemisphere.

Over the two days we enjoyed listening to, and interacting with world-wide education visionaries and leading educators from across Australasia. A feature of the Congress was the opportunity to engage with and hear keynote presentations from Eric Mazur, Sylvia Todd, Heidi Hayes Jacobs and more. Below is a brief summary of some of the keynote presentations.

Eric Mazur – a physicist from Harvard University has become increasingly familiar in education circles for his ‘peer instruction’ approach to teaching and learning. Mazur’s keynote presentation, ‘Assessment: The silent killer of learning,’ challenged us to think about the prevailing model of schooling and how current practices of assessment can hinder creativity and innovation. Mazur suggests that current models of assessment only tap into learners short term memory where there is limited retention and minimal transfer of learning. Mazur says our assessments are outdated and focussed on ranking / grading students rather than simulating real-life such as team- based learning assessment – where students can engage in learning discussions. Mazur suggests that schools should focus more on assessment that provides meaningful feedback to support learner growth.

Sylvia Todd – known as Super-Awesome Sylvia is a 13-year old student who loves to ‘tinker’. When Sylvia was 7 years old she attended a ‘maker faire’ with her father and became inspired by her experience. This resulted in Sylvia creating her own YouTube show, “Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show”, inspiring hundreds of thousands of students globally, to ‘get out and make something.’ Through her tinkering and making experiences, Sylvia’s key message to educators was for us to recognise and acknowledge that making mistakes is a very important part of the learning process as her own experiences of failure have helped shape her become a more resilient learner.

Heidi Hayes Jacobs – internationally renowned leader in curriculum mapping, gave a keynote presentation, ‘Future Schools now: Bold moves & thoughtful leadership’. Jacobs talked to us about old and new pedagogies and how schools are taking time to adapt to a new kind of learner, teacher and learning environment. She spoke about new and emerging literacies such as digital, media and global. Jacobs said that students’ access and use of digital tools must be accompanied by critical thinking and problem solving rather than just surface skimming information. She said that teachers and students need to teach and learn deeply and embrace the use of technology as it pervades every aspect of our lives. She said that today’s learners create and share knowledge in much different ways from previous generations and that schooling should provide a new kind of learner with the best of classical and current pedagogies. Jacobs highlighted three big shifts in teaching and learning: coding; gaming and personalised learning. She also spoke about the changes in teaching and learning in schools such as Finland and Sweden where schools group students by topics and projects rather than by age.

Our teaching staff found the whole EduTech Congress an enjoyable, inspiring and rewarding professional learning experience – and are committed to transforming their practice to meet the ongoing and future needs of our students at Craigburn. Once again, we acknowledge the support of our Governing Council and community for the opportunity to use two consecutive pupil-free days to attend the Congress.

Regards, Paul

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