Written by: Rebecca Lim
EduTECH Asia 2020 was a unique experience because it was conducted as a virtual festival due to Covid-19. Participants could log in, network, and listen to the various presentations and sessions from the comfort of their own home. One of the highlights of the conference is the Masterclass. These 1.5-hour classes taught by passionate educators/Edu Tech enthusiasts were held on 2 separate days.
Here are some insights into 2 masterclasses that I have attended:
Advanced EdTech Tools – conducted by Craig Kemp
Insightful, fun, and interactive are 3 words I would use to describe this session. Mr. Craig Kemp, an educator turned EdTech Consultant from Ignite EdTech referred to Simon Sinek’s “The Golden Circle” on the importance of finding the “Why”. He readapted it to finding the purpose of incorporating Educational Technology into an institution. He also introduced some useful apps and websites for educators in class as well as the organizational level. “Break-out” sessions within the 1.5 hours allowed participants to network and voice their opinions on topics such as their “why” of attending the session, which tools would be useful, and how participants would incorporate these tools for their organization.
Start with ‘why’.
The central theme of Mr. Kemp’s masterclass and a key question that we should all ponder on. As we are currently in the digital age, students are surrounded by tech all the time hence educators/institutional leaders need to be more purposeful in using Edu-tech in teaching their students. Identifying the purpose would be helpful for institutional leaders to shape the institution’s vision and help devise an action plan in helping their staff adapt to the new teaching environment.
How to build key skills with Edu-tech such as problem-solving, self-management, working with people, and learning to use and develop future technology (see Image 1(a)). Looking at the top 4 skills needed by our students to help them adapt to future job markets, educators and leaders need to be thinking about their purpose of integrating and how to help students learn to be independent, develop social skills and be flexible in their learning
Image 1(b). Screenshot of Craig Kemp’s slides. EduTech Asia 2021. Screenshot was taken by author.
He ended the session with a powerful call to action emphasising that we need to plan with the future in mind, know our WHY, build our institutional culture and choose the right tools or we will be left behind in this time and age. Participants were asked to reflect on this as the session came to a close.
Personalised Learning – conducted by Paul Swanson
The title of this masterclass aptly describes the central theme of this masterclass. Mr. Paul Swanson deconstructed this broad topic using 3 branches: trust, knowledge, and personalisation. Through his personal experience as a teacher and Tech Coordinator, Mr. Swanson shared his experiences as well as samples of work he has designed for his students to let participants gain insight on how to design a personalised learning experience for their own target learners.
The session began with a quick warm-up exercise where he explained the importance of trust in linking teachers’ knowledge of students and teachers’ personalization of learning.
Next, the topic of knowledge comes into play where teachers need to know about our students to be most effective? And what do students need to know about themselves to be most effective as learners? In short, teachers need to have knowledge of their students’ needs, not just learning needs but also psychological needs as well.
Lastly and finally, comes the process of personalization. Mr. Swanson shared an interrelated model of relating content – process – a product with readiness – interest – learning profile (see Image 2).
Image 2: A brief depiction of the personalized learning model adapted from Mr. Paul Swanson’s slides.
Mr. Swanson also provided samples of work in each grid showcasing how these features work together to form a unique learning/teaching experience for students and teachers alike. In summary, Mr. Swanson emphasized that teachers should take note of learners’ readiness, their interests, and learning needs when designing their lessons in order to achieve personalized learning.
Though samples of work provided by Mr. Swanson were in the context of international schools, the central theme of considering learner’s readiness for certain content, taking note of their learning needs and interests resonates with many educators.
After attending both masterclasses, apart from gaining valuable information about new tools e.g.: Hologo World, which I could try in class, I gained insight into how important it is for educators to know our purpose in incorporating Edu-Tech into our classes. Both masterclasses provided a reflective experience for me into how I have used Edu-Tech in my lessons. Taking pointers from both speakers, I would be more mindful in considering the learner’s needs and integrating tech into my lessons.