We were delighted to participate in the New South Wales Department of Education's recent Inspire Integrate Conference at Sydney Olympic Park. This event gives teachers with a passion for ICT the opportunity to learn more about integrating it into their teaching and learning practices.
The conference featured international key note speakers, including Sir John Jones who shared his knowledge and experience to help attendees develop a vision for the future. Sir Jones's address focused on the need for increased collaboration within and between organizations, the power of positive goal-setting, and ways for schools to build capacity for sustainability.
Valerie Hannon, Director of the UK-based Innovation Unit was another keynote speaker at the conference. Her organization is a contributor to the OECD’s Innovative Learning Environments Project, Among other things, this project sought to define how to design learning to more deeply engage students, more of the time. This led the project team to develop a concept that inspired a lot of discussion at the conference, the 4 P’s of Engaging Activities:
- Placed- the activity is located, either physically or virtually, in a world the student recognizes and is seeking to understand
- Purposeful-the activity feels authentic, it absorbs the student in actions or practical and intellectual value and fosters a sense of agency:
- Passion-led- the activity enlists the outside passions of both students and teachers, enhancing engagement by encouraging students to choose areas of interest which matter to them;
- Pervasive- the activity enables the students to continue learning outside the physical and temporal constraints of the classroom, drawing on family members, peers, local experts, and online reference as sources of research and critique
The INSPIRE INNOVATE conference was an outstanding event for enriching communities of practice in NSW. Schools from the region presented their innovation stories, particularly focusing on STEM/STEAM and the use of technology for learning. As the majority of the participants were from schools with the NSW Department of Education, these stories resonated with participants who share a lot of common ground. Most of the schools represented have similar technology infrastructures, with access to a range of enterprise software programs and choice over what innovations they embrace.
For example, because the NSW DOE has standardized on SMART Notebook as the lesson creation software for its 2000 schools, conference participants were eager to see and discuss the latest developments in our technology. One of the big topics of discussion was their desire to refresh their SMART Boards, which had been introduced several years earlier through programs such as The Connect Classrooms Program and Building the Education Revolution. While their interactive whiteboards were still working, these ICT leaders were particularly interested in the new SMART Boards, which require no projectors, have 4K resolution and can be easily moved between classrooms as needed.
The discussion in our session was inspiring and insightful. The participants shared their ideas using Shout It Out, and we discussed ways they could implement the 4 P's with the game-based activities in SMART Learning Suite and SLS Online.
The participants also shared ideas for addressing the challenges that schools with BYOD programs share with schools who have student devices in their classrooms. We talked about how to manage what students view on their screens, create collaborative and shared experiences beyond simply sharing a document, bring gamification into lessons, and assess to make learning visible.
We're grateful to conference sponsors like The conference was also supported by sponsors like Integrate AV who brought their latest offerings to demonstrate to teachers and inspire their practices.
The future of learning in NSW is bright, thanks to the passion and dedication of its teachers and ICT leaders. It was an honor and a pleasure to participate in the conference with them.