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Education and Technology in Uncertain Times Roundtable - key takeaways

To celebrate 200 years of Catholic Education in Australia, we put together a roundtable discussion of education specialists. During the session our panel looked at the present state of education and the future potential of technology in Catholic education. Our host for the day was Greg O’Connor who heads up the team based in the Asia Pac region. He was joined by: 

- Danny Rankin - Inclusion Consultant, Learning Services, Catholic Schools Office Diocese of Lismore.

- Jacinta Keena - STEM Teacher, St John's Catholic School, Richmond Tasmania

- Zeina Chalich, Principal St Francis Xavier's Catholic Primary School, Arncliffe.

- Tom Lee, Director of Innovation and Technology, Monte Sant Angelo Mercy College

There was so much to talk about that keeping to the 1 hour time limit was a challenge. Let’s take a look at some of the key points. 

  1. Technology can amplify and broaden pedagogy and is a brilliant way to make sure everyone can access learning. “We used to send technology just to those who needed it, but now we make sure it is there for everyone if and when they need it” said Danny. 

    Zeina added “the pandemic has changed how many teachers view technology, beforehand these tools may have been seen as a nice to have and now they are very much a must have''. The ongoing situation in Australia and across the world means that educators have to be able to switch learning quickly. Or “pivot” as Danny put it, admitting that is the most overused word of the last 18 months. 
  2. EdTech supports home learning, everyone agreed that home learning would have been impossible without technology. One of the positives is the skills that young people are learning. The workplaces of the future could be very different than they were pre-pandemic. Skills to do with working independently, working in an agile way and finding a flexible way to solve problems could all be important in the future workplace.

    While the panel acknowledged that technology is essential to continued learning at home, it is not without its challenges.  There’s the issue around equity of access, what tools people have at home, and parents having to juggle schooling and working. However, panelists saw a real increase in parental involvement, many parents enjoyed the chance to see what their children were learning. Tom shared a story of how he was talking to a student about time management, when a voice in the background whispered “he’s got a point sweetheart” - blended learning can mean a blended audience too! 
  3. Hybrid learning gives people the opportunity to personalise their learning, they can play an instructional video once and get on with the task. Or they can play it again and again until they are clear on what they need to do.  The teacher’s role is to show the options available and then it’s up to the kids to show what they know, students really enjoy that agency and the chance to experiment. Danny said “it’s a slow burn, which is why we’re getting great results now”.
  4. A digital learning strategy is important, Greg mentioned SOS or “shiny object syndrome” at the start of the pandemic people were looking at lots and lots of EdTech tools. Jacinta said “ we don’t want teachers to be glad to get rid of technology when lockdown is over, so we used a slow release model to make sure colleagues were on board too. 

Our guests were all so passionate about this topic and there was a lot to cover, you can listen to the roundtable as many times as you like. If you want to get involved on social media the hashtags to use are: #AusEdRoundtable  #AussieEd