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EduTech 2015 – Day 1 Highlights

The first Keynote was Eric Mazur, from Harvard who spoke on ‘Assessment: The Silent Killer of Learning’.

This was a powerful, engaging and insightful presentation.

He argued that we should focus first on solving authentic problems, and work backwards from this goal to how we assess it and then how we teach it. i.e. Start with desired outcome, then look for acceptable evidence and then decide how/what to teach.

He stated that such authentic learning is erratic, and students are risk adverse.

As they might lose marks, they are often very reluctant to take up the open-ended challenges that real-world problem solving and authentic learning introduces.

So in some sense our grading can significantly prevent innovation and creativity.

Eric offered some fascinating alternative assessment approaches. He also recommended the work of Grant Wiggins and his book ‘Understanding by Design’

See for example http://www.authenticeducation.org/ubd/ubd.lasso & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4isSHf3SBuQ

For an overview of the Keynote see http://au.educationhq.com/news/29425/edutech-2015-kicks-off-with-dynamic-keynote-speakers/

Eric’s site is EricMazur.com

Robert Baker:

The next presentation that I found really valuable was by Robert Baker from a school in Cincinatti.

Robert developed a special app for OneNote that enables teachers to view all student work in OneNote and easily annotate, mark, etc. He argued that research has shown that hand writing is far superior for student learning and that good ‘Ink technology’ (digitizers)  most perfectly combines the  modalities of the  pen, of touch and of typing to provide the best environment for student learning (centred around each use of OneNote on a Tablet).

Another important statistic that he quoted was that 80%  of Problem Solving is non-linguistic, that is it involves  crossing-out, circling, highlighting, etc. It is not just text.

He also gave a great demo of the ‘Fluid Math’ app.

His talk also stressed the need to move toward ‘authentic problem solving’ or ‘real-world problems’ and Project-Based Learning.

So I found both these talks supportive of my argument and Keynote presentation at FutureSchools in March that we need a revolution in our pedagogy and a move to Computational Thinking as a core skill in developing a Project Based, real-world or authentic problems model (also called Challenge Based Learning) which is cross-curricula and inter-departmental.

The Closing Keynote which finished at 6 pm (it was a long day), was from David Price, of the Innovation Unit and author of ‘OPEN: How we’ll work, live and learn in the future’ – seehttp://www.amazon.com.au/OPEN-well-work-learn-future-ebook/dp/B00FLYFS98 and Larry Rosenstock, CEO and founding Principal  of High Tech High.

David has some fascinating statistics including that by 2020, 50% of the workforce will be freelance and by 2030 almost 50% of all jobs will be automated.

Larry introduced his school ‘High Tech High’ where authentic, real world problem solving is front and centre.

They argued that learning needs to be:

  • Outward facing
  • Highly Collaborative
  • Done with and not to students, and
  • Purpose Driven.

I also presented very briefly at a TeachMeet session on my Computational Thinking approach to authentic learning. My Keynote from Futureschools is now available as a video at Edutech’s ED-TV – http://edtv.webcastcloud.tv/

Now for Day 2!




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