EduTech 2nd June 2014

EduTech National Congress and Expo 2014

Edutech brings together the entire education and training sector, providing inspiring and informative international and Australian speakers leading in their field.

I was fortunate to attend the K-12 Library Managers Congress, one of the nine offered.

The Opening keynote speaker was Sugata Mitra- a Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University in the UK.

From a Hole in The Wall to the Cloud

Mitra outlined the history of education with its military/industrial/religious origins and the pre-digital world it was created to serve. As we are all aware these educational goals are now outdated and obsolete in our current digital 21st Century World.
It is essential that new structures and approaches are taken in education to prepare students to be able to be active citizens in the digital 21st Century.

“The Victorians were great engineers. They engineered a [schooling] system that was so robust that it’s still with us today, continuously producing identical people for a machine that no longer exists.”

Mitra, Sugata. (2013)Build a School in the Cloud
How far can it go?? Was the question that was inspired by the outcomes of the Hole in the Wall Experiment that took place in the slums of India, 15 years ago.

In 1999, Mitra placed an internet connected computer in a wall in the urban slum area of New Delhi. The children were not given any instruction, or even told that the object they were interacting with was a computer. A hidden camera recorded the children’s processes of communication and learning as they discovered how to successfully use the device to connect online and learn.

The experiment revealed that in an environment that stimulates curiosity and without any direct input from a teacher, children are able to learn through self- instruction and the shared knowledge of their peers.

As a result, Mitra has investigated the effectiveness of self-organised learning environments (SOLEs), through a number of experiments in which he found that children are able to successfully learn, irrespective of who or where they are and what language they know, when left unsupervised with a computer and internet access.

In 2013 Mitra won TED Global and received US$1million towards his wish to build a school in the Cloud – to create unsupervised environments for children who do not have access to high quality instruction.

The results from Mitra’s work leaves me questioning just how powerful digital learning can become as an agent for learning in all societies with or without teachers and how much more powerful learning could become if our education system was less invasive and more self directed with teachers acting as facilitators, simply letting learning happen and stimulating further learning through reflective questioning.

To value the power of collaboration in allowing children to work, share, learn, teach and support each other.

Mitra describes two learning environments-

  1. An organised learning environment – which has predicted outcomes and –
  2. A chaotic learning environment – in which learning outcomes cannot be predicted.
    Self organised education is learning at the edge of chaos

The power of collaborative learning with digital technologies was further supported in the second presentation entitled

“ Leading a Learning Revolution”

by Anthony Salcito, the vice president of education for Microsoft.


In sharing  Microsoft’s vision to transform education, Salcito made the point that in today’s world students are learning with or without supervision and educators need to embrace technology rather than  competing with it.
Technology allows learning to be explored inside and outside the classroom alike.
Schools are often focused on acquisition of computers rather than the access to knowledge. The quest for a 1-1 device often finds the devices outdated by the time the deployment is complete.

Today’s educators need to think differently from the past and look at creating learning environments based on

–       Students arriving at different points of learning at different times and

–       Students working collaboratively to solve relevant problems from a wide source of information.

Mystery Skype
Is a way of using technology to connect students using a yes/ no celebrity heads type game.
Mystery Skype is a way of collecting data that drives further learning.

Office Mix
A way of creating interesting presentations by inserting interactive applications.


Curriculum Connections and the School Library in Full Flight

Presented by Karen Bonanno CEO, Australian School Library Association

The School Library is about providing Opportunities

  • For students to learn in many different ways
  • To help students to navigate through the information available

Informative resources include-

A slide share by Leonne FitsGerald which includes Dr Mandy Lupton’s presentation about Inquiry Learning and the Australian Curriculum.

Mapping Curriculum Skills and Capabilities to an Inquiry Learning Framework is a useful slide share presentation by Karen Bonanno

Jenny Luca provides guidance for teaching students and teachers Digital Literacy to develop 21st Century Skills

Buck institute for Education is dedicated to improving 21st Century teaching & learning by creating & disseminating products, practices & knowledge for effective Project Based Learning.

Edmodo provides a safe and easy way for your class to connect and collaborate, share content, and access homework, grades and school notices.

Classroom is a new tool coming to Google Apps for Education. Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and communicate with their classes with ease. And it lets students organize their work, complete and turn it in, and communicate directly with their teachers and peers. Classroom was designed hand-in-hand with teachers to help them save time, keep classes organized, and improve communication with students.

Storyify- Makes the web tell a story. 1 Collect media from across the web; 2 Publish on Storify, embed anywhere; 3 Share and notify sources, go viral.

Duck Duck Go– Provides a clean interface together with a no-tracking privacy policy. Let’s you search privately

Gap minder– Watch The Joy of Stats. Explore the world. Gapminder World shows the World’s most important trends.

Technology is not an event it is a facilitator

The final speaker was Sir Ken Robinson. The title of his motivational presentation was-

Learning to be Creative : How to Teach and Lead Innovation , Identify talents and Revolutionise Education.

Sir Ken Robinson is an English author, speaker, and international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education, and arts bodies. He challenges the way we’re educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity.

He concluded the day’s presentations with suggesting that educators need to focus on the culture of the school and not the output. It is about the quality of lives we as educators help to cultivate- its about fairness, equity and care.

Landfill harmonic The world generates about a billion tons of garbage a year. … Landfill Harmonic follows the Orchestra as it takes its inspiring spectacle of trash-into-music around the world. … has dedicated her career to advocating for children and giving a voice to those unable to speak for themselves.

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