eduTECH 2013 Government and Corporate Congress reflection 1

eduTECH 2013: Blog 1 reflection


This reflection is based on my personal opinions and learnings gained from attending a variety of keynotes and presentations at EduTECH 2013 Brisbane Australia.

Key Notes and Presentations 3 - 4 June 2013

The conference contained an exceptional array of presentations and I was only able to attend  a fraction of what was offered. The array of presentations I was able to attend was titled  Corporate Government Learning Congress. I attended the following presentations;
  • Drive: What the science of motivation can teach us about high performance - Daniel Pink
  • Rethinking Education - Salman Khan
  • Working and learning smarter with the 70:20:10 model - Charles Jennings
  • It's in the "APP"lication: Technology + learning = capability - Peter Ferreira
  • Shaping Australian Curriculum - Barry McGaw
  • The creative technology revolution you cannot ignore - Gary Stager
  • Design thinking to create The Living Organisation - Ewan McIntosh
  • Major trends and deriving forces in business, people and technology - Craig Rispin
  • Changing complex behaviors using digital technologies - Andrew Duval
  • Implementing new technologies in learning to cement high standards in compliance - Cameron Hodkinson
  • eLearning within the wider learning plan - John Stericker
  • Building a sound vision and strategy for your digital plumbing - Scott Kiososky
  • Out Of Our Minds: learning to be creative - Ken Robinson
  • Highlights K-12 


This blog is not an analysis of each presentation. It is a reflection of the themes that I felt are most relevant to my context as an educator.
  1. Autonomy,  mastery, and purpose
  2. Knowledge map - by achievement  rather than by academic modules
  3. Formal learning is not keeping up with change 
  4. Anything a child brings to schools should be used
  5. Domain expertise transference has a limitation
  6. Less us (teachers) more them (students)
  7. If teachers don't learn the school dies
  8. Internet of things is here
  9. Computer games enable progress based on reflection
  10. Schools need to employ real-time analysis and predictive analysis to increase efficiency and remove time waste
  11. Cherish diversity
  12. Culture of schools
I have broken this reflective analysis into 3 blogs to reduce a scroll of death
  • Blog 1: Themes 1 to 4
  • Blog 2: Themes 5 to 8
  • Blog 3: Themes 9 to 12

Theme 1: Autonomy,  mastery, and purpose 

In general, common sense understandings suggest that if you reward behaviour you get more of that behaviour and if you punish behaviour you get less of that behaviour. In general, schools have constructed their behaviour management processes on this common-sense understanding. Essentially this is used to standardise acceptable behaviour to efficiently co-habitat numbers of students in what is a standardised school/classroom. Reward and punishment are employed to gain compliance with the expected norms associated with a school and classroom.
Research indicates that if the sort compliance is related to mechanical tasks then rewards and punishments can be effectively employed. The issue that concerns me is that the reward and punishment process is underlining instruction. As learning is a complex cognitive activity underlining instruction with reward and punishment processes could actually negate learning.  My fundamental question is;
  • Can rewards and punishment improve learning?  
Unfortunately, schools are employing the reward and punishment conditioning process across all student management activities, whether they be rudimentary or complex. The conditioning of students is based on if-then actions. If you do this then you will get this. My secondary questions are;
  • Is learning by if-then instruction suitable for 21st-century learning? 
  • Is 21st-century learning better suited through enabling autonomy, mastery, and purpose? (Pink)
If schools are to limit the use of if-then controllers (rewards and punishments) to basic mechanical tasks what conditioning processes can be used to stimulate cognitive activity? Dan Pink refers to giving the participant controlling autonomy and the space to gain mastery as good conditioning processes. The cornerstone to support autonomy and mastery is purpose. Teachers could construct autonomy and mastery through a student-centered and team-centered purpose. 

The task for schools is to move away from didactic instruction (teacher-centered) where teachers are;
  • presenting information without student context,
  • doing most of the talking and students doing most of the listening,
  • directing the students every move (no student autonomy), and
  • supplying the answers.
The task for schools is to move towards student centered learning where instruction;
  • is based on students' experiences,
  • has meaning,
  • where learning is part of the process learning, and 
  • students are able to develop a mastery of skills.

Theme 2: Knowledge map - by achievement  rather than by academic modules

Do teachers know their students like computer games know their players? Do teachers know their students' inquiry preferences as much as Google search does? Are teacher-generated learning programs as contextually comprehensive as the immersive adaptive programs generated by instructional designers and other non-classroom based professionals.

The gaps in learning can cause a dysfunction of future understandings. Are teachers of the 'standard classroom' capable of identifying gaps in their students' learning and they are capable of programming individualized programs to address these gaps? From my experiences as a teacher, education administrator, and parent - when a student doesn't grasp a concept or essential idea there are few alternatives for that student to acquire the essential knowledge. 

Adaptive learning systems could alleviate these concept gaps through tasks that construct comprehension. The program through continuous formative testing can identify gaps in understanding and formulate learning pathways to address the failing issue. The challenges for schools is to change teacher practices and move away from teacher based content management processes to adaptive content management processes.

The Khan Academy was presented as one such solution to alleviating gaps in student understanding. However, from my research adaptive learning systems are relatively new and there are concerns associated with standards and compliance. The Khan Academy platform is based on one individual's 'unqualified' vision of teaching and learning. It is supported by advertisements and private donations without any formal standards of compliance that guarantee quality and assurance. It sits outside of any formal learning institution/jurisdiction. Despite this, the Khan Academy has a significantly high viewing rate and a large number of subscriptions.

Other concerns associated with adaptive learning systems include the lack of proprietary standards and possible data lockin. In reference to Theme 1: autonomy,  mastery, and purpose the capacity of contextualized need and collaboration based learning based on purpose, autonomy and mastery is not fully realized. At this point in time, adaptive learning systems are potentially capable of addressing the learning needs of 21st-century students, however, present regulatory policies and guidelines address learning standards based on brick and mortar schools.

Adaptive learning systems do have the potential through their proposed data emphasized design-construct to improve learning conditions. Beneficial learning conditions can include;
  • personalized learning interfaces,
  • capacities to plugging into learner chosen platforms (eg Google apps and Facebook),
  • aligning content to individual understanding - assembling content as required,
  • acting as a supplementary tutor, and 
  • the generation of learning analytics that communicates learning gains and needs with the student and teacher.
The logistical tasks education jurisdictions need to consider the transition from present learning management systems (content) to adaptive systems (data). As the systems emerge jurisdictions will be presented with a wide array of choices within choices.  Jurisdictions may need to employ multiple interconnected adaptive learning systems. An adaptive learning system also requires a transition from 'traditional' teaching practices to practices that are data analysis based. This requires a different skill set. Teachers will need to apply the mind-set of a facilitator, mentor, and coach to assist students. Significant levels of professional development will be required.

Notes from the video
  • Schools are holding back students - fear of failure - the stigma of failure.
  • Are schools poorly designed games?
  • Students want to access and see their progress - instantaneously.
  • Schools are not learning from advancements in other businesses.
  • Differentiated learning is a difficult objective in what can be described as a normal classroom.
  • Education data is not being tapped - it disappears into the void.
  • Learning based on problems rather than content.
  • DYOL - Do Your Own Learning.
  • Analytics will assist teachers to have higher-level relationships with their students.
  • Newton Adaptive Learning.
  • Collaboration example in an adaptive multiplayer game
  • Adaptive learning example: Radmatter 
  • Administrators - get students into your office (bottom-up end-user experience design (student and teacher)) 

Theme 3: Formal learning is not keeping up with change

Perhaps the biggest challenge for schools is professional development. As the integration of technologies, the demands for differentiated learning and 21st-century fluencies require significant operational changes in the classroom professional development becomes paramount.

Great Teachers
The influence that great teachers have directly on students and indirectly but the ongoing influence of future society is significant. The Queensland Department of Education Training and Employment explicitly states Great teachers = Great results.
According to the Australian News (link) ....the countries with the best STEM learning outcomes, teachers are well respected, are well paid, and are promoted based on their continuous participation in professional development training.

My concerning interest is in the professional development needs of school districts/regions that have high leadership and teaching staff turnover, and high rates of student disengagement/achievement. What are the professional development processes that can assist in nurturing a service delivered by great teachers?

There is little doubt that budgets for professional development will decline. Teachers are overwhelmingly stating that their profession is getting busier. The teacher workplace is becoming more complex. Society is placing more demands on teachers. Teachers are time-poor. Classroom demands are higher, accountability is higher and there is an accordingly rise in numbers of disengaged students.  The profession is recognized for it's the mental and emotional effect on practitioners. Teacher's lifelong impact is high.

Possible Model 70:20:10

  • Formal Learning accounts for only 20% of learning.
  • Most learning occurs on-the-job.
  • Informal learning on-the-job is less expensive and more effective.
  • Informal learning gives the direction of learning back to the participant. This is consistent with Theme 1: purpose, autonomy, and mastery.
  • Focus on Experiences, Practice, Conversations, and Networks, Reflection.
  • Informal learning is tacit.
  • In regards to students - harness out of school learning.
  • 70 = Experience | 20 = Exposure | 10 = Education
To enable teachers to change practices and to accommodate rapid change a systemic approach that defines and acknowledges informal professional learning is required. If on-the-job experience is the most efficient synthesis of professional advancement this needs to be recognized within standards and compliancy organizations such as The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership and the value permeated through jurisdiction leaders, administrative support services, and on-site school leaders.

Theme 4: Anything a child brings to schools should be used

BYOD - Bring Your Own Devise
Bring Your Own Devise will become one of the critical 21st-century decisions a school will need to make. Getting it right is important to future growth. This decision will define how a school will accommodate differences and personalized learning. As schools progress towards differentiated methodologies BYOD will impact processes that are fundamentally linked to group-based collaborative activity. These immediate decisions a school will face are not simple. School leaders feel the pressure to keep up with fast-paced change, manage budget pressures, and client demand. There are no one-stop solutions

The session I attended was composed as a role play highlighting the difficulties a school board can have when trying to deliberate on whether or not to proceed with BYOD. Whilst it was tongue in cheek it did bring forward the complicated issues associated with BYOD technologies. Issues such as consistency of technology, technology as a fashion statement, affordability, equity,  duty of care, lack of knowledge, and vendor pressure were some of the issues raised.

BYOD is an impacting issue that Australian Schools are forced to face. In The Sydney Morning Herald online article BYO laptop to school as funds dry up (link) it is stated that "Many schools will ask students to bring their own smartphones, tablets, and laptops from home as a federal government program which gave every student in years 9 to 12 access to a computer expires at the end of this month". The given reasons are;

  • the Digital Education Revolution $2.4 billion funding concluded June 30, 2013, 
  • schools have a large stock of aging computers that need to be replaced,
  • school-based BYOD policies would assist in the replacement of aging computers,
  • the use of technology within curricular and instruction is significant, and
  • many private schools expect parents to buy computer technologies for their children.
There are a number of government schools that have developed BYOD policies. Some of the schools have posted their BYOD policies online. A sample includes; 
BYOD is a significant step toward student autonomy. The initial wave of computers was essentially locked into computer labs guarded by an IT teacher. The second wave liberated computers into classrooms but was still locked down by firewalls and the IT Administrator. The third wave inspired by the Digital Education Revolution enabled students to take laptops home. The BYOD wave will allow students to bring their computing devices to school. Essentially schools will need to change their connectivity and teaching practices to meet this wave of diversity and student autonomy.

Blog 2: Themes 5 to 8
To be developed

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