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A guest post from Marci Powell, Polycom’s Global Director for Education, on her recent trip to Australia where she attendended and presented at EduTECH (Australasia’s largest annual education technology conference and exhibition)

 

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Polycom’s Global Director for Education, Marci Powell, has over 15 years’ experience in the education industry and in her curre

nt role works with educational institutions to help them integrate and utilise Polycom solutions to meet their needs. She recently attended and presented at EduTECH, Australasia’s largest annual education technology conference and exhibition, highlighting the power of video collaboration with the education industry.

 

I just returned from a whirlwind of activity in Australia where I spoke at EduTECH (3rd – 5th June), probably one of the largest educational technology shows in the world. Over 6500 attendees from the education and training sector were in attendance with numerous vendors showing the latest developments within the education industry.

 

Key Takeaways from EduTECH:

 

  • The most common discussion I had over the two days was those interested in or already extending their reach. Those who need to provide access to rural students enabling them to have access to advanced courses or specialty programs as well as valuable content, resources and student services. 
  • Education institutions must develop students as global citizens and deliver programs that attract talented students and teachers from throughout the world. Students expect greater access and demand a highly personalized learning environment and more robust student services.
  • Without transforming the learning environment and extending the reach, institutions will fall short of providing adequately for their stakeholders and community. Successful institutions must not only compete with other schools but also with demands students face at work and home. 
  • Flexible, affordable and accessible collaborative environments, transformed learning experiences, enriched curriculum, interactive/ engaging lessons and improved learning outcomes.
  • Video collaboration solutions support work/teaching across a network of dispersed locations, allowing flexibility in how, when and where employees work, faculty teach and students learn because they are able to collaborate with colleagues/peers, face to face. 
  • Video collaboration solutions support work/teaching across a network of dispersed locations, allowing flexibility in how, when and where employees work, faculty teach and students learn because they are able to collaborate with colleagues/peers, face to face. 
  • Content in education is key and the ability to share in real time or download as part of a revision cycle is critical.

 

Bringing the world to EduTECH

 

We also hosted several outstanding content providers to take attendees on virtual field trips (VFT) from Australia to Canada to New York. The Manhattan School of Music (MSM) shared an example of one of their teacher-voted- “Pinnacle Award” programs. What was fun for me was that their jazz singer is Croatian who got her undergraduate from University of Zagreb and is a MSM for her post-graduate degree.

 

Another fun moment from EduTECH was the programming provided by Fizzics Education LTD as they conducted science experiments virtually with teachers in the booth. I totally enjoyed the liquid nitrogen lesson but I must say I was worried we might make a huge mess by exploding something. Fortunately, no mess and lots of fun.

 

Another aspect of EduTECH that impressed a lot (outside of the exhibit hall) was the calibre of keynote and spotlight speakers that were presenting. Though their approaches were different, each still hit on what I see as some of the most prevailing challenges and trends in education today. From K-12 through the workplace, the conference programme was designed to have us consider how education must change to prepare students from their future and not our past. Many touched on the importance of teaching applied skills: critical thinking, problem solving, communication and team work.  This completely fits in line with my message regarding the important role video communications plays in not only providing a platform for a new way of teaching and learning, but emulates the workplace. Using video conferencing to communicate and work in geographically dispersed teams to solve problems not only develops ones critical thinking abilities, it develops those applied skills and prepares students for the workplace environment.

 

Sir Ken Robinson encouraged us to take a strategic and visionary look at the future of training and development and examine how technology is being used for workforce development to up skill, train, motivate, test and monitor. We were to consider how employees learn, develop and achieve. In Sir Ken’s stirring talk, he told us how to get out of the educational "death valley" we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility. Click here to see more.

 

From K-12 through the workplace, the conference programme was designed to have us consider how education must change to prepare students from their future and not our past. Many touched on the importance of teaching applied skills: critical thinking, problem solving, communication and team work.  This completely fits in line with my message regarding the important role video communications plays in not only providing a platform for a new way of teaching and learning, but emulates the workplace. Using video conferencing to communicate and work in geographically dispersed teams to solve problems not only develops ones critical thinking abilities, it develops those applied skills and prepares students for the workplace environment.

 

It was nice to catch up with my friends at AARNet, Australia’s academic and education research network.  They have served and continue to serve quite well many education institutions, primary through tertiary. I want to thank them for providing bandwidth to the conference that made accessibility for all attendees and exhibitors optimum.

 

Below: Polycom's Marci Powell presenting at EduTECH whilst also defying distance by collaborating with Manhattan School of Music and Fizzics Education via video

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