Innovative Learning Environments Expo 1
Sandown Racecourse Springvale, Tuesday 20 July 2010
Keynote Presentation transcript
Setting the Scene
Introduction: This podcast is brought to you by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Victoria.
Daniel Gooding: I’d like to welcome you to the first of our Innovative Learning Environments Expo for 2010. We’re really
seeing these expos as a celebration so I hope as you go though the day you get a real sense of celebrating
the fantastic things that are going on throughout the system. And really take something away at the end of
the day. Today you’ll be hearing about excellent teaching and learning practices and some really powerful
learning opportunities for the young people of today.
I’d really like to encourage you to take view today a bit like at trip to Myer. If you’ve been shopping before
for clothes, you go to the store, here we are, we’re at the store. Throughout the rest of the day you’re going
to go to different departments. You might go to Esprit or you might go down to Country Road and when
you’re in there you’re going to see all sorts of garments. I encourage you to take away three or four
garments today. Three or four strategies or ideas that you’re going to try and take back to your schools or
your working environments and then you’re going to try them on. I encourage you to have a critical friend
with you or a coach or somebody you can turn around and say “Does my pedagogy look big in this?” And
then once you tried these things on then you can really cement them into your practice. But I’ve been at
days like this before and I know that if try and take everything on, you’ll be--be overwhelmed because there
will be so many fantastic things to hear about today. So just set in your mind what it is that you’re looking
for and I’m sure you’ll find it as you travel through the day.
To begin proceedings today I’d like to welcome Katrina Reynen. Katrina’s the General Manger of the
Innovation and Next Practice Division and she’ll be challenging your thinking about innovation and what
learning means today. Katrina.
Katrina Reynen: Good morning and welcome to—actually you’re the first cabs off the rank for the Innovative Learning
Environments Expo so, congratulations. We’ve decided to start in this region and, and go from here. My last
experience shopping at Myer was taking my 13-year old-daughter out to the teenage Miss section and if
you can imagine one huge 13-year-old bedroom with stuff from one end of it to the other, you’ll see the
analogy is actually quite apt today.
We are expecting that you do participate in this fully; that is ask questions, challenge, provocations, all of
those sorts of things but do take away three or four things by the end of the day. I’m going to start by
acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land that we have gathered here today and that’s the
Bunurong people and I pay my respects to their elders past and present. There are over 200 of you here
today, and you’ve gathered from all across the state in some way and you’re here to listen to some
innovative speakers. Well I firmly believe that the expertise is in the room for these sorts of events. One of
the advantages of my role is that I’m able to look at a number of different schools across the state, indeed
across the world and see what’s happening in these new spaces. It’s an unprecedented time for change.
The investment that we’ve had in school buildings and we worked out not so long ago, we’re up to about 3
billion dollars investment in ICT over the last 11 years as a system. So all of these things are coming
together now in these new spaces. But it is a time of risk. I was at a public session yesterday, public panel
down at Fed Square where we were talking about and challenged by people from the university sector who
said “Don’t you know this has happened in the U.K. but more close to home in New South Wales. New
buildings have been put out and there has been no change in learning outcomes for students. I have been
in 50-million-dollar schools where we have new learning spaces without the walls but kids are clustered in
the corners and teachers are saying, “Shh, they’re learning over there. They’re having a class.” Those
spaces, if we don’t use them properly, they’re not going to work. They’re not going to make the difference
that we want to see and we know it’s been a really busy year trying to get the building permits through. I’m
on the parents association at my, my son’s school. It has been all about the building. Today is about the
teaching and learning. Today’s about their vision. What are we going to try and do in these new spaces?
I’m going to put a few provocations up. You may not agree with them but I hope they’re going to really
challenge your thinking. Having schools with teachers is like having a banker standing behind an ATM. This
is a comment made by one of our international thought leaders, Dr. Yong Zhao who was out here not so
long ago. The point that he’s making here is that if we keep putting another billion dollars worth of ICT into
our classrooms and we don’t think about very purposefully why we’re using this ICT, it’s going to be more
hardware, more infrastructure that gets to the end of its three-year useful life and has to be replaced.
He challenges us to think. We’re the only profession, the only business who hasn’t said “What are we going
to do differently as a result of the technology?” In health things are done completely differently. In
professional services things are done completely differently as the result of the ICT. But in education, we
haven’t really thought about, “What do we mean by digital learning and how does that impact on the way we
teach our students?”
One of the comments that Steven Heppel has made, again, and I think is—I wouldn’t say it outside an
education audience but he said, “We are witnessing the death of schooling and the birth of learning around
the world.” There are lighthouse places, innovative places where this is happening but we’ve really got to
think about, “What are we doing with this technology?” If we’re doing what we did before but doing it in
fancier ways with Netbooks or notebooks or interactive whiteboards or iPads or whatever it is, we haven’t
changed what we’re doing, we may well have not invested the money.
Charles Leadbeater makes a comment, “Education has been captured by the teaching profession.” We’re
doing wider workforce trials at the moment where we are looking at “What is the workforce in a school? Is it
just the teachers? Is it the teachers and the ES staff? Is it the experts that are being beamed in from all
around the world? Is it the people in the community who’ve got something to add to the learning of our
children?” What is about teaching that we need to really rethink and say, “It’s not about us being the people
who know everything anymore and putting this information out to children?” It’s about learning and the point
I always make speaking with groups like this, we’re the learners here.
The point about no one ever did PD and how to use Google I think is a really important one. Our kids don’t
need to be taught how to use all the technology in front of them. And if they are, we should be looking at
that technology. If we’re spending too much time learning how to use software packages and applications,
then we’re focusing on the technology part not the learning. The music industry did not create Napster.
We’ve got to start looking at other industries to think about how we might review our teaching and learning
There are two kinds of theories about new spaces, new technologies etc. The first one is about fear. And
the fear factor is, “If we don’t give our students technology and these new learning environments, they will
be left behind globally.” So the fear factor and what a lot of parents are saying, if you have my children for
13 years, they come the other end and they don’t know how to navigate in an online, in virtual world, then
they’re going to be left behind. They’re going to be competing globally with people from countries where
they’re doing that sort of thing. So the fear factor is very, very motivating.
The other one of course is the hope and if that sort of goes something like if you throw enough technology
in, enough money for school buildings, enough money on extra teachers, a miracle will occur. Learning will
change and we know that doesn’t happen either. So that hope theory is also about though, we will find our
purpose for ICT at some point. It’s all very easy to stand up here and say as I gave you that example before
about where the learning spaces are not actually working the way they need to but there are also brand
new buildings that look fabulous. The colours that you—you just know them. They’re lime and they’re
purple, and they’re red, and they’re brilliant colours and the kids have really enjoyed the space but they’re
getting lost around corners. They’re kind of funky areas but they’re not designed for learning collaboratively.
And when you see it working, it works so well and that’s what we’re trying to get you to um, pick up from this
If you’re going to use new learning spaces and new technologies to teach traditional subjects better then
you’re missing the point. We’re talking about a brand new curriculum. We’re talking about inter-cultural
understanding being a subject for all of our students. What does that mean? I often think about the group of
students in Bairnsdale that we worked with about five years ago. We had the top literature, top English
literature student down there, the best VCE score in the state and the second top maths student down
there. They had never been out of Bairnsdale and they have no aspiration to ever leave Bairnsdale. And
we’re talking about intercultural understandings and world understandings and comparative religion and all
that sort of thing from within the confines of Bairnsdale. When I went down two years later, one was working
in a café; one was working in a bakery. Now that might have been very good—good for them, it might have
been the outcome they wanted but if have kids with that intellectual capacity who do not have a relationship
with a school overseas or some other way of really shaking up their thinking, I, I really think we’ve done
them a bit of a disservice.
Technologies afford us the ability to convey concepts in new ways that would otherwise not be possible,
efficient, or effective with other instructional methods. Let’s break it down, make it really simple. When you
did exams, when I did exams, you had to think right through. This is my introductory paragraphs; this is my
three key points, and this is how I’m going to conclude. Then you started. We know kids now start in the
middle. They start throwing things down on the page because they can cut and paste. They develop the
ideas as they go through. They are thinking differently.
There’s a whole new branch of neuroscience that is looking now the way kids brains are being wired
differently as they learn in different ways using technologies. We can’t keep saying, “They can learn with the
technologies at home and come to school and not have it in their hands.” There’s a piece of research that
was done about two years ago about the difference between students who have internet access at home
and those who didn’t and we use this as a business case to build some new technology capability in the
Broadmeadow area. ABS results say that when you have students who have internet access at home, we
were comparing eastern suburbs schools with northern suburbs schools, the eastern suburbs kids we’re on
the internet about 11 or 12 hours a week. In that 11 or 12 hours a week, they were spending at least 80% of
their time discussing homework, projects, knowledge-based things with other kids.
They weren’t all on there saying how are you going and here’s my party photos. They were actually using
the technology for social networking for their homework. When you add that up, that is two years of learning
time. These kids in the eastern suburbs schools had, over the schools in the northern suburbs, two years of
learning time from their peers, from each other, from the rest of the world, from the Internet. And you start to
break it down like that and you start to realise that we do have a major obligation in our schools to be
providing these kids with opportunities to learn with technologies. It’s a bit like if you don’t even know what a
virtual community is, how can you start to talk about, that think about, that even envisage, envisage working
with that when you get out of school? There is a new digital literacy that is emerging around the world and
we need to be at the forefront and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be here in Victoria.
The other point I want to make about this is that virtual is reality for a lot of these children. We have
psychologists talking to us about how real emotions are being played out in these virtual places, virtual
spaces. We have real relationships. You may have not met the other person at the other end but they’re
real relationships out there. And they’re in a space that is not monitored. So cyber safety, working safely in
these spaces is something that we need to think about as well. Again, Steven Heppel, gave a lovely quote
about this; “You wouldn’t accept a child going down to a parking lot with broken glass and lights that don’t
work with no one else around at eleven o’clock at night. Why on earth do you think we could do this in the—
in a virtual learning space?
So what we’re trying to do as a Department is take away that risk for you is a far as possible and give you
the high quality education resources available through FUSE, our teacher’s portal, our Google for educators
and a whole range of other strategies are there to help you once you figure out what it is that you want to do
with the technology? And that’s a little bit about how we learn with technology but also what we access
through the technology.
By the way, this screenshot is part of a ‘newbie tour’ of the American Library Association and it runs a
significant portion of its conference through second life. Again, Yong Zhao talks about gold farmers,
industries where you have young boys particularly uni students who are building up game points over and—
like in, like in battery hen operations. Building up gaming points and selling them to people in the U.S. who
are the high net worth individuals who just can’t be bothered playing through the first 13 levels of the game.
They sell those points online, they’re real economy. Virtual is reality.
Joel Klein, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, I was lucky enough to have a
conversation with him about this time last year and he said he’s got one message for his teachers, “You
have a choice in how you get there, but you don’t have a choice about going on the journey. The world is
changing. The world is changing for our kids and they’re changing it around us.” So I’m encouraging you
here today to learn from each other. But if it’s something that looks suspiciously like what you might have
done last year, really start thinking to yourself, “How might this look completely different if we work in
teams? If we had students working in team? If we brought external experts in as required as we needed
them.” Really try and expand your thinking today because it all starts with the vision. And if the vision isn’t
sufficiently out there, then we’re not going to get there. We do the same as you do in schools; we have one-
year plans and five-year plans. We have very operational one-year plans and we have an aspiration which
we may or may not achieve. But if you don’t stop with the end in mind, you won’t get there. We’ve had some
challenges for schools where they had for example a brilliant new learning space, committed teachers
working in teams, students working on personal programs and they kind of put the kids through for a term in
year nine and then they move on. And you think, “Well, how did you think that was going to work?” You
know, you have these kids come out of a very traditional environment, come into something different then
move on, that’s not changing the game, that’s giving them a great experience and it’s a great starting point
but that is not changing the game which is what we’re trying to do.
The whole school has to change. It’s the other thing. When we have kids coming through year seven, eight,
and nine and then they go back to year, ten, eleven and twelve, and they’re back to the very traditional
learning environment, they’re giving the teachers a hard time and the teachers are having a hard time.
So we’ve got to think about, “What’s the five or six year program we have for changing our learning
outcomes?” And there are examples here of where it’s working really well. There are examples in India
where they have the poorest conditions that you’ve ever imagined in slums and they are doing innovative
things, they are creating external hours of programs. They’re doing two shifts a day, they’re bringing in a
whole range of other learners, they’re bringing in vocational education and also learning with technologies
as a specific subject so that people can get trained and get jobs when they leave school.
So it’s not all about the buildings. In fact, it’s all about the learning vision and I really encourage you here
today to talk to each other about this. To challenge each other’s ideas, and go—when you go back to your
school, think about how you’re going to start that conversation the rest of the staff, because one of the
things we do is we work with the innovators and it’s a huge privilege to be in this space. They’re the ones
that are helping us to design this future that we’re talking about. And it’s not a future that’s 10 years away;
it’s a future that’s here now. It’s here in our schools right now and we would like everyone in our system to
be learning from each other, from the experts, the innovators and the system. So please enjoy your day
today, and keep that, that mantra in mind, “We’re going to push ourselves beyond what we might have done
if we’d done this exercise three years ago.” Thank you.
Close: For more information about the topics discussed in this podcast, please visit The Department of Education
and Early Childhood Development website, www.education.vic.gov.au