Amid the flurry of registrations, coffee runs and networking which has already begun, there is no mistaking the energy which rises above the chatter; for educators, this is precisely the place to be.
Some might say nabbing a ticket to the largest education congress and expo in the Southern Hemisphere is much like winning the ultimate PD lottery. So for those hungry to expand their technological horizons, and to bring the most innovative of ideas to life for students, the time is now.
For the first keynote of the day, Baroness Susan Greenfield takes to the stage to give delegates “a lesson in neuroscience” on how the digital world will change the way we think and learn.
A neuroscientist, author and broadcaster, Greenfield was also named 2006 Honorary Australian of the Year in 2006. In her opening address, she considers why humans have their own distinct personalities.
“Your brain gives you a unique and highly prized perspective on the world,” she shares.
Greenfield argues the fascination children have with screens and technology is eroding their childhood.
She shares peer reviewed research which states that children who love video games have brains like gamblers. She asks delegates to reflect on the importance of creating games when they were younger, when they would imagine and plan games with their peers.
“Your created the narrative, you drove the change,” she says.
In the advent of technology, children are now playing video or online games, which means they aren’t creating those narratives, she says.
In the second keynote of the morning, John Vamvakitis, director international of Google for Education says that for most of history, the places we live in and the people we’re exposed to have been what has defined our success.
With technology, the world is now at our fingertips. He asks the EduTECH audience, “who hasn’t used technology today?”
“Technology is the new morning coffee!” Vamvakitis says.
Generation Z, according to Vamvakitis, has the average attention span of eight seconds. What’s more, they on the internet 10 hours a day, which is 60 per cent of the time they’re actually awake.
Given these numbers, what can teachers do to engage students with the technology they’re consuming?
“Teachers help students to discover the curriculum instead of delivering it to them,” Vamvakitis says.
“Technology isn’t the silver bullet to improving educational outcomes, it is merely a tool - a tool that allows teachers to make a big difference in the lives of their students.”
The morning session concludes with a welcome address from Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones.
It’s clear that lots of questions are raised on the first morning of EduTECH, and educators will spend two days in Brisbane trying to find the answers to them.