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Release date 02 May 2000









South African educators attend IT conference in Australia

Educators from South Africa attended the annual educational conference entitled "The World in My Classroom" hosted by John XXIII College in Perth, Australia.

The overall theme for the conference was "Taking charge of technology in the Classroom." Conference convenor, Chris Marley of John XXIII College said that this year's conference was more about learning through technology than the technology itself.

One educator from South Africa, Adam Dobson of St. Peter's College, said that he attended the conference in order to explore various information technology learning opportunities and IT integration in the classroom. The conference also created the perfect opportunity for Adam Dobson to gather interesting information about how Australian teachers and schools currently utilise and integrate information technology into their own classroom environments.

The conference, held over two days on the 13th and 14th April, was packed full of interesting and informative seminars and hands-on workshops. There was a wide array of topics ranging from presentations of IT Curriculums, the latest technology that can be utilised in the classroom, practical workshops and interactive demonstrations on various computer programmes such as Publisher and PowerPoint.

In addition, discussions about the manner in which information technology can enhance the student learning experience, and a sharing of visions as to how educators and learners can be stimulated and enriched in the classroom were held.

Mr Greg Clune, Principal of John XXIII College, opened "The World in My Classroom" conference by outlining the goals of the conference for the delegates. He spoke of the aim to "provide classroom participants with hands-on, practical support" claiming that this kind of conference was aimed at giving educators real solutions for the classroom. "As educators," he said, "we can indeed be overwhelmed by all of this (technology)." He urged educators to "be aware of the pace of change".

This was a fitting start to The World in My Classroom conference that was outward looking in its views and ethos.

Jil Hrdliczka, Managing Director and founder of Knowledge Network, South Africa and Bruce Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of the Curriculum Corporation, Australia were keynote speakers for the conference. (Jil Hrdliczka's keynote address is on the web site.)

Chris Marley says that the conference was extremely successful. 420 delegates attended over two days, and were offered a smorgasbord of seminars and workshops that varied in outlook and duration. Comments from the previous year’s conference had resulted in extending and expanding the conference choice. Marley believes that the conference confirmed educator views and concerns, yet also gave teachers valuable practical knowledge which they could take back with them into the classroom.

Adam Dobson said that the educators in Australia seem to take the concept of the "community" much more seriously and this opens up many options for IT-based learning. He said that for his own classroom, he returned from the conference with some very good ideas. Some of these include "making my IT-based learning more relevant to the direct needs of the students. Much of what we do serves the interests of academia, not theirs. Integrated learning and outcomes based assessment need a much more central place in my teaching. Engaged learning is central to the use of IT – it has to be relevant. Teachers in South Africa also need to share more."

Dobson also said that it appeared that Australian educators are much less fanatical about using IT as a "business" tool. Many South Africans seem to think that it is all about earning a living. While that may be partly true, there are other important skills that need to be passed on to students. Having said that, the Internet is strongly linked with changing market forces. This needs to be taken into consideration."

What was of particular interest to educators attending the conference was that there is one concern that runs parallel in both Australian and South African educational environments: the role of the educator during the process of technology integration in the classroom.

With the integration of technology into the classroom educators need to reaffirm their role as educators, begging the question: where and how do we as educators fit into this integration process? Much has been said about the learner, less about the educator and the demands made on them by technology. The conference allowed this question to be reposed, provoking educators into discussion and thought.

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Date of update: 18 February 2009