Amy McDowell, Content Specialist

Our EduTECH 2020 highlights

We’ve just finished two days at the first ever virtual EduTECH. Hosting the event online didn’t stop it from being any less jam packed with thought provoking keynotes, insightful break out seminars and passionate educators wanting to connect and learn together. As a casualty of the year that is 2020 itself, it’s no surprise that the main themes and takeaways from the event were focused on the digital future of education, and they show in our teams’ top takeaways. Keep reading to learn more. 

Education re-imagined

During Monday’s plenary keynote Travis Smith (K-12 Education Industry Lead at Microsoft Australia) acknowledged the challenging year that 2020 has been for educators, but emphasised that now is the time to reflect on some of the positives to emerge from the impact of the global pandemic.

Travis spoke about how we can re-imagine education after the disruption of 2020 and what the transition back to school looks like. He also shared with attendees how we can improve our hybrid approach to teaching and learning via technology. Including utilising both synchronous and asynchronous learning, improving techquity for all and focusing on student wellbeing. 

EduTech event key take away, ways to improve hybrid learning with technology diagram.

Digital direction

Another stand out moment for us during the conference was the Digital Direction panel discussion, featuring members of the NSW Department of Education, alongside Robyn Evans (Principal at Casula Public School) and Warren Parkes (Principal at Picton High School), as they explored post pandemic education. 

Key questions from EduTech panel discussion. 1. How will we prepare our students for an increasingly digital future? 2. How are we ensuring digital equity? and 3. How will the classroom of tomorrow change to leverage the digital?

Supporting teachers to be able to meet the needs of students in these new learning environments was a big talking point among the panel. With a DOE focus on the development of teacher learning resources and ‘Just in Time’ PD becoming a department priority, as they recognise Professional Development as the pathway to curriculum change. Highlighting the importance of teachers embracing the positive changes and learnings from the COVID-19 school closures. 

One of these key learnings was the need to achieve equity of learning opportunities. With the panel discussing the need to develop curriculum resources that provide teachers with the ability to own the delivery and the message. As well as digital solutions that can support this, with tools including ‘Talk to text’ speech input and ‘Text to speech’ tools both highlighted as mandatory by the panel for literacy delivery across early childhood, right through to secondary. 

Rounding up the discussion, all agreed that sustaining resources in blended learning environments would be challenging. As plenty of technology was trialed during school closures, with downloads of EdTech tools in Australia surging by 190% since March. But it was then difficult to adapt these for use in the classroom on return. The department’s answer to this is to ask specific questions when adopting technology:

  • Is it a learning enabler?
  • And does it provide collaborative critical thinking?

Managing technology integration 

Our final takeaways came from Rob Flavell’s session ‘Managing the ever changing technology in Education’. Rob is the President of the Victorian ICT Network for Education and he was joined by Diana Murase (Director IT at Kardinia International College). 

What we enjoyed most about this session was the perspective of looking at technology integration across schools holistically. And the importance of vendors being able to present the technology as a learning for IT leads. Which supports the idea of designing technology solutions specific to education settings. 

What have you learned from the challenges of 2020 that you’ll be using to enhance teaching and learning next year? What were some of your other key takeaways from EduTECH 2020? Share your thoughts below!


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