The Way Forward Seminar presented by edTech
This included presentations by Douglas Harre from Ministry of Education who talked emphatically about the need for strong infrastructures in education to support teachers and learners with technology. He urged us to contact our political representatives to lobby for a fibre loop (such as KAREN) for our region. Another point of interest was his reference to the use of open source software and the saving that could be made there by schools having their own funding rather than the blanket payment currently made for software tools throughout the country. He stressed that it is not the tools but the pedagogical, collaborative approach available through technology and in particular web 2.0 tools, that will make the most difference to learners.
Hugh Nettar who was a previous MINTS scholar, now working for edTech offered a really interesting presentation and his messages were similar to those of Douglas. He talked about the availability and the changing nature of the way/s we receive and synthesise information and how this affects our approach to teaching and learning. Hugh referred to three 'pillars' of learning for today as 'co-constructivism, multiple intelligences and the taxonomies of learning' and then demonstrated how these were addressed in the ultranet Learning Management system he is involved with the development of.
Further presentations were of a more technical nature but all referred to the crucial factor of infrastructure in order to provide 'customer satisfaction' that is value added - way beyond the 'phase 1 fix and break' stage most schools in New Zealand are continuing to operate at. It was reiterated clearly that fibre loops are essential for high speed communication between schools, and that this is needed for teaching and learning to be collaborative and creative.
The vision for 21st Century learning put forward by Jonathon Beveridge (equico) was that
"Any student, teacher or administrator can do anything, anytime, anywhere they need to do it."
What is needed to achieve this is a team in the organisation that develops a clear vision; this vision is outlined in terms of priorities and budget and is carried out through best practice systems.
The seminar was well attended by teachers, school leaders and IT people from as far as Hamilton; it was another excellent opportunity to network and connect with like minded educators.