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Thoughts and reflections from the front line – a teacher’s voice in education technology

Susana Tomaz | STEAM Coordinator Westlake Girls High School | Across School Lead – Pupuke Kāhui Ako at Ministry of Education of New Zealand

Reflections from EduTECH Australia

Pupuke Kāhui Ako team at the Education New Zealand stand networking with our amazing EdTechNZ members (Evo Leota-Tupou and Elisabeth Kumaran of Pacific Kid’s Learning and Tim Kern of NutriBlocks) .

As an Across School Lead (ASL) for the Pupuke Kāhui, I had the privilege to attend EduTech with my ASL Team, and in this blog, I would like to explore the key highlights and takeaways from this remarkable event.

EduTECH Australia was held on the 23rd and 24th of August in Melbourne. With over 350 exhibitors and 45 startups in the Innovation Alley, complemented by a roster of 567 speakers over two days, it served as a dynamic hub where educational leaders and technology providers converged to explore, assess, and shape the future of education. Bringing together the entire education ecosystem, fostering discussions about the future of education, sharing best practices, and creating opportunities for networking. EduTECH Australia 2023 left an indelible mark on the landscape of educational innovation. It was heartening to see numerous New Zealand EdTech companies represented at EduTECH and supported by Education New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) emerged as the dominant theme of the event, offering a unique opportunity to delve deep into AI’s implications in education, reinforcing the need for authentic, inclusive, and safe ways to engage students with emerging technologies. This focus on AI underlines its pivotal role in shaping the future of education. Some of the workshops focused on:

1. AI in Education: Delving into the potential, challenges, and practical applications of AI in education, with a focus on curriculum integration, personalisation, and addressing ethical concerns. 

2. Redesigning Learning in an AI-infused World: Exploring future perspectives on AI in education, developing forward-looking digital strategies, and empowering students with skills resistant to automation through creativity and digital fluency.

3. Student-Centric Learning and Inclusion: Advocating for student-centric learning ecosystems powered by technology, supporting neurodiverse learners, and promoting inclusive digital environments. Innovative approaches to improving outcomes in numeracy, literacy, and indigenous education were also a key focus.

Leading the way in Future-proofing Education

During the Ministerial address, Vicki Ward, Parliamentary Secretary for Education, representing the Victoria Department of Education, introduced the STEM Education State Plan focused on building foundational STEM skills in young children, lift STEM achievement in schools, and ensure our higher education and training sectors are creating a STEM-skilled workforce. Victoria is investing $128 million in 10 Tech Schools, $30 million in professional learning programs that build teachers’ capability to teach and promote STEM and $82.2 million in a regional support initiative to give schools, students and their families local access to a range of experts, facilitate collaboration, and assist principals in planning how to lift student achievement. This government-funded initiative is committed to enhancing student engagement and success in STEM subjects by connecting educators, learners and families with STEM resources, programs, specialist support, as well as addressing the STEM-related training needs of industry, particularly in priority sectors

Its STEM innovative cutting-edge digital learning programs and projects currently being implemented in Victorian Government schools, at no cost to schools,  were on display in the DE VIC stand, one of the largest stands (15m x 9m) at EduTECH. Featuring a bustling ecosystem of Science & Maths Specialist Centres and Tech Schools, including Knox Innovation, Opportunity & Sustainability Centre (KIOSC), and the STEM Centre of Excellence (SCoE), affiliated with Melbourne University and the Science Gallery Melbourne.

The STEAM Education Plan for Victoria state, serves as a compelling example of an efficient ecosystem approach that prioritises and promotes equitable access to STEM education. This successful model, implemented in Victoria State with a comparable population size to New Zealand, holds the potential to offer valuable insights on how to future-proof education and Aotearoa’s future talent pool.

EduTECH Australia 2023 highlighted the country’s substantial strides in seamlessly integrating emerging technologies and innovation into its educational system. As we contemplate our experiences at EduTECH Australia 2023, it prompts thought-provoking questions about the ever-evolving educational landscape and the pivotal role that technologies like AI plays in shaping the future of education. And the important question: Are we harnessing emerging technologies to empower both learners and educators here in Aotearoa? And if so, how are we  ensuring no one is left behind?

EdTechNZ EdTechNZ is the voice of EdTech in New Zealand, supporting the growth of the sector. Our purpose is to drive the creative use of technology, inside and outside the classroom, for better student outcomes. We aim to facilitate a world class education system for all New Zealanders and showcase local EdTech to the world.