Educational Conferences – Another assortment of EdTech presentations.

Dubai has been host to another of the many worldwide education conferences in EdInvestMena which has been taking place during this week.   Like so many other conferences, if EdTech is not a central feature, it makes a prominent appearance throughout as it has done at EdInvestMena.  Now sadly although I presented a short piece at the conference on Monday with regards social media, I did not get the opportunity to see the main bulk of the event which occurred from Tuesday onwards.   As such my comments here are largely based on the programme for EdInvestMena and on my previous attendance at similar events in the UAE, Kuwait and UK.

The EdTech presenters at these events often present some very good examples of approaches they are using within classrooms or schools.   The use of iPads has been a central theme across a number of presentations I have seen over the last year or so.   The discussion of EdTech as a disruptive force operating on education to bring about change has also been discussed on numerous occasions.     The issue is that these presentations although sometimes excellent are not mirrored in the average practice I see within schools even where schools have the equipment.    Added to this is the issue that not all schools have the equipment as evidenced by one attendee at a session I ran recently who pointed out all my web app ideas were great however wouldn’t work in his school as there was no Wifi capabilities in classrooms.     As such should we be spending so much time discussing EdTech and how it can improve learning?

by digitalart - from FreeDigital_small

I suggest that the answer is that we shouldn’t be spending quite so much time on EdTech and that we should re-examine the balance of our educational discussing.    For me the answer might lie in those schools where EdTech is being used very successfully to encourage and support collaboration, communication, etc.   The successful use of EdTech did not come about because of the introduction of the Tech.  A school culture which encourages creativity, collaboration and the valuing of ideas within a supportive environment plays a large part in making successful use of EdTech.   Teachers need to feel they can try new things, even where they fail, that they can seek support from others and that they can share ideas.    This is all to do with an open or healthy school culture.   So a school effectively using EdTech is likely to have an open and healthy culture.

Considering a school with an open or healthy school culture but without the EdTech resources or with limited EdTech resources again we would expect sharing and collaboration.   Again this would be expected to lead to positive learning experiences for students as teachers discuss and share ideas to ensure students receive the best experience possible.   Where a limited amount of Tech was available it should also lead to the creative and effective use of this tech to leverage the maximum impact possible from it. So an effective school, whether not it is using EdTech effectively, is likely to have an open and healthy culture.

So if the culture of a school is so important to schools in general as well as to schools engaged in using EdTech why is so very much of the educational conference time spent on discussing EdTech?     Should we not be spending less time discussing EdTech and much more time on discussing creating open, positive and healthy school cultures?   Now it may be that culture, as a very intangible trait of schools, may be more difficult to discuss and therefore we are choosing the easy option in the tangible EdTech or it could be related to the many vendors trying to sell us the latest tech?    Either way I think we need to relook at the balance of our educational discussions.

 

Image courtesy of digitalart at freedigitalphotos.net

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Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the Middle East. In addition Gary is a Google and Microsoft Certified Educator.

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