The EduTECH International Congress and Expo in Brisbane is on any scale a big event. The best and the brightest in the tech world come to showcase, discuss and debate how teaching and learning can be enhanced through the effective use of digital technology in the classroom.
School leaders, classroom teachers, ICT co-ordinators, academics, education department staff and basically anyone interested in 21st Century learning come for two days to see what the future holds for digital learning.
The numbers are impressive. There were over 6,600 delegates, 221 speakers, more than 200 exhibitors and 16,000 followers on Twitter. For the first time the ACTF was an exhibitor at eduTECH and got to experience the event on our busy ACTF stand and through the eyes of the many hundreds of delegates who sought us out.
After two full days of showcasing the breadth of the ACTF’s education resources, programs, tools and Apps (with the occasional break to check out what was happening elsewhere) what stood out? Was it the continued growth of learning management systems, 3D printers, robotics as problem solving, the gamification of learning and teaching, increasing importance of Maker spaces in schools, embedding coding in the curriculum or the practical use of virtual reality through Google cardboard?
Well it was certainly elements of all of the above. But what stood out for me and what resonated with the classroom teachers I spoke to were the tools, devices and resources that made student learning more thought-provoking, collaborative, engaging and transparent. When I spoke to students making a device that could detect when a plant needed watering in the Maker space they could not only tell me what they were doing and how… but why it is important. Other students told me coding was really about problem-solving and the fun bit was persevering and cracking the tough problems through exploring, experimenting and testing.
On the ACTF stand the two resources that attracted most teacher interest were our movie-making Apps for Little Lunch and MY:24. The Little Lunch App allows primary students to create their own episode of the highly popular and award-winning Little Lunch TV show in a way that promotes well-planned story-telling and structured narratives. The MY:24 App provides upper-primary and secondary students with the ability to create their own structured mini-documentaries similar to the MY:24 TV series.
What enthused teachers most is that both the Little Lunch and MY:24 Apps encourage students to document their learning in a creative and thoughtful way. They also facilitate collaboration as part of the story-telling process and promote audience and peer feedback once movies are ready for screening.
For me EduTECH reaffirmed that effective digital learning is not only about the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ … but very much about the ‘why’. Whether you’re telling a compelling story, solving a problem or brainstorming the future, thoughtful use of technology combined with good teaching allows our students to tackle the ‘why’ with rigour and confidence.