As someone who is very interested in how technology is being integrated across year levels and curricula, I usually attend EDTECHSA’s annual conference. This year I presented two workshops: One as an invited speaker the other as trade – talking about Edufolios. It’s always very interesting wearing all of my hats at once! I awaiting feedback from the conference committee but, my gut feeling was that all went well. The session on Digital Thinking was fascinating as we had a wide range of teachers from different year levels, levels of experience and more. There were some fantastic conversations happening in that room that I am sure everyone benefited from.
The conference had some amazing keynote speakers and, honestly I spent more time networking and talking to those speakers than I did attending workshops. The result was some amazing new connections, inspirations and learning – all of which I will try and outline in this post. My main take-away from the day was a surprise to me. You can read that here, in the post I wrote for the Edufolio’s blog.
Below, in no particular order are my thoughts, targets and learning from the sessions I did attend:
Creating Future Innovators – Taj Pabari and Shannon Fleming
With my ever- wider and heavier – entrepreneur hat on this keynote was refreshing. Taj made some bold statements about our curriculum and the relevance of it’s content for our future generations. Is it ethical to teach early years children to code? Will they need to know that by the time they graduate – or will code be done by… AI? It’s always interesting to see reactions to such questions. That question, in particular, showed how someone outside of the profession views the ‘code’ part of the digital technologies curriculum. Perhaps wooed by the media into thinking that we learn code.. just to code… When infact, Code is not the outcome, it is the means through which to assess something deeper. Something that I think Taj WAS advocating for. As we know, the digital technologies curriculum focuses on thinking (systems, computation and design) and the code is a means to assess THOSE skills. It’s definitely NOT the other way around. Seeing it in that light means that teaching kids to work with code sets them up to think in ways that should prepare them for the challenges of any imagined future.. whether it has code or not! 😉
I loved being reminded by these two about our constant need to box children into stages defined by age – not passion or ability. I am a strong advocate for ‘stage not age’ teaching practices but it made me cringe a little when I realised that I was probably guilty of asking my four year old what he’d like to be when he grows us. Does he need to wait until he’s grown up? What does that even mean? This statement actually prompted me to have a quick chat with his Montessori early years teacher who is about to start a unit with them on ‘community and the jobs people do to help it’. Hopefully, we can rephrase that question into, what would you like to do, to make a difference? What are you passionate about? What do you want to change in the world? – “Vision, Mission, Values” – to quote well know business man Jack Delosa. – these are what drive successful, innovative thinkers… Not job titles and test results. It was wonderful to hear that conversation at an educator conference. If you’re curious about Jack and his thoughts.. You might like to read “Unwritten“. Each chapter takes a great person from history and explores how and why they became who they were/are – It’s interesting!.
Take-aways – It’s going to be OK to use my learning as an entrepreneur as I work with the digital tech curriculum, thinking and culture in schools. I can where both hats and they can compliment each other nicely.