As the third largest education and technology conference in the world and the largest in the southern hemisphere, EduTECH National Congress and Expo has grown a lot in the four years since it was established.
The annual event includes more than 200 speakers and in June, 5500 delegates will descend on Brisbane to take part in three days of practical breakout sessions, masterclasses, seminars, congresses and a gala dinner.
The CEO of Association and Communication Events and the organiser of EduTECH, Craig Macfarlane, says the event is an opportunity for people to come from across Australia and all over the world to share information, share stories, meet each other and learn for themselves.
“After all, we live in a global world now so what we try to do is bring global thought leaders together with Australian leaders to work out how to better prepare their students for the future,” he shares with TechnologyEd.
Macfarlane says one of EduTECH’s aims is to reignite the passion and motivation teachers have, and present them with new ways to engage their students using technology.
Always on the lookout for the latest trends and topics that will make for new conferences, Macfarlane says he was compelled to start EduTECH back in 2011 because there was no single conference in Australia that included the whole education sector.
“Other countries like the US, or the UK and other first world countries have these giant events and there was no event like that in Australia,” Macfarlane says.
“There are many events, but most of them are run by associations or they are pretty small or they aren’t inclusive or they were just for the Catholic schools or just for primary schools or just for principals – there was no one event that brought everything together.”
EduTECH has been designed to be relevant for anyone working in the education space, regardless of which sector they work in or whether they are from a school, university or TAFE setting.
“It is a national event and we get teachers and principals and university leaders from all over Australia coming,” he shares.
“In fact, EduTECH has since grown into the third largest education technology style event in the world. There’s one in the US, there’s one in the UK and we are the third largest and I think people don’t know that. And there it runs in little, old Brisbane.”
This year, there will be eight different congresses running simultaneously throughout the event including the: K-12 Ed Leaders Congress; K-12 IT Directors and Managers Congress; K-12 Library Managers Congress; Higher Ed Leaders Congress; Tertiary Education IT Leaders Congress; K-12 Business Managers and Administrators Congress; Workplace Learning Congress and VET Leaders Congress. Macfarlane says this allows delegates to choose their own journey around the event and go to whichever session they like.
The calibre of speakers presenting at EduTECH has always been one of the event’s biggest drawcards. Last year’s speaker list included Sir Ken Robinson and Sugata Mitra. Some of the big names this year include Dr Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Steve Wheeler and a 12-year-old who goes by the name of Super Awesome Silvia.
“This year our big keynote speaker is actually a 12-year-old girl,” Macfarlane shares. “So, we’ve gone from one side of the spectrum, which is Sir Ken Robinson who has written books and all these sorts of things, to a young person who is also a girl.
“She was just perfect and she has spoken around the world at other big conferences and events. She’s not really known in Australia, but I think she’s going to blow everybody away; she’s going to be fantastic.”
Following her presentation, Super Awesome Silvia will also be on-hand on the show floor, where she’ll be running a maker’s lounge with the help of Gary Stager.
“It’s going to be very interactive and it’s going to be very busy. Having Gary Stager, who is a world renowned expert in the maker’s space, there together with Super Awesome Silvia after her presentation is going to be something very special,” Macfarlane says.
The event will also host a free exhibition with many leading suppliers and expert consultants showcasing the latest in cutting-edge classroom technologies and large enterprise-scale infrastructure used by Australia’s largest universities.
They will also be sharing some of the back-end infrastructure needed to underpin modern learning environments, as well as library management solutions, which will be on display for attendees to explore and discover.
Macfarlane says this part of the exhibition is incredibly valuable as there is so much learning that takes place on this exhibition floor.
“We’ve got all the experts there and a lot of the vendors, they are not only just selling things, they are experts in these spaces and they are the people that are leading new technology and they’re there to be approached.
"It’s a fantastic learning opportunity that I think people forget about,” he says.