VITTA 2011: What I learned on day one - First session

Today was the first day of the VITTA (Victorian IT Teachers' Association) conference. It is the only day I am attending and, as always, I have learned a lot! Here is my summary of the first session of today:

Keynote 1: Roger Larsen, Pearson Platforms
Roger's speech was very engaging. In it, he emphasised 21st Century skills. In particular, he noted critical thinking and entrepreneurship as key among those skills. Roger emphasised that digital content must not be a mere digitisation of paper. He wanted digital content to be changeable and interactive.

Roger moved on to speak about MLEs (Managed Learning Environments). MLE seemed to be an extension of Learning Management Systems. He described a system he helped implement in London where the students signed once and then had access to Applications and personalised content while teachers and parents had access to a variety of records and assessment information.

His advice to administrators who invest in learning technologies: "Unless the teacher is fully empowered, you will fail!" He wanted curricula to be flexible enough to allow the teacher to respond to the needs of the students and to allow for the solving of student-defined problems.
Roger also gave some practical advice on disseminating technology in schools:
  • Be patient (it takes at least 3 years); and
  • Identify teachers who will champion the use of technology. 
In the end, he kept coming back to the idea that technology has to be relevant to education and not the other way around.

Gerald White of the ACER was invited to join Roger on the stage, as did Yong Zhao via video link from Oregon. Dr White facilitated a session of Q&A through Twitter and SMS. Here are some of the points made by Yong Zhao:
  • ICT is being used to support the tyranny of standardised tests;
  • ICT should be used to support students by giving them an authentic audience and global support;
  • We need to develop right-brain skills rather than the skills that had been traditionally valued; and
  • Banning sites gives a false sense of security. Students will have access outside of school anyway. It is our responsibility to teach them to sift through what is out there.
When asked what he viewed as important skills for the 21st Century, Prof Yong enumerated the following:
  • The ability to work across cultures
  • Global entrepreneurship
  • Understanding of one's own strength (emotion + metacognition)
  • Social networking
  • Responsible risk taking
I hope these notes give you a good sense of what went on this year. If you're an IT teacher or a school leader, I highly recommend that you attend next year's conference. VITTA rocks!


Ludicrousity said…
Good thoughts.
Here are mine for the day.

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