Reflections from EduTech
The 2023 EduTech Congress and Expo was held at the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre on 24 and 25 August. With over 10,000 attendees, 400 exhibitors and 450 speakers, this is the largest gathering of education stakeholders in the country, providing a platform for them to discuss, debate, and shape the future of education.
The higher education stream of the conference covered several key topics:
- Insights into the Australian Universities Accord.
- The future of AI.
- Putting learners first.
- Student success.
Insights from the Accord
Tom Bentley (Executive Director; Policy, Strategy and Impact, RMIT University) presented ‘Insights into the process and prospective direction stemming from consultation about the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report. The reform presents an opportunity to ‘shape and serve a system with higher participation and outcomes’.
Those with tertiary qualifications are more likely to find employment and earn higher salaries in a fast-changing labour market. It was interesting to note that progression between levels of education is not sequential across the tertiary system, with a quarter of all study moving to lower AQF levels.
Tom highlighted the key issues and priorities of the Interim Report requiring the following:
- A huge lift in participation, with equity.
- Alignment with VE and TAFE.
- Industry-responsiveness credentials, placements and curriculum.
- Mission-based compacts, regional planning and national governance.
With the overall goal of reform for the Accord being ‘growth for skills through greater equity’, the final recommendations of the Review will be highly anticipated for the higher education sector in Australia.
The future of AI
Professor Toby Walsh (Chief Scientist; AI Institute (UNSW)) tried to reassure the conference attendees that generative AI (genAI) is not all bad and that it is generating information and not synthesising data. He made the point that there are currently noticeable limitations with bias, understanding and reasoning and that we might have overestimated the intelligence of humans.
Putting the learner first
Patrick Stoddart (Associate Director; Academic Systems & Digital Experience, University of Melbourne) discussed the importance of putting the learner first and embracing genuine educational approaches.
It was encouraging to hear that Deakin shares the same approaches to prioritise the learner.
- Authentic assessment.
- Peer feedback.
- Greater links to industry with WIL, especially in non-traditional areas.
- Richer learning design.
Ultimately, good teaching practice is still good teaching practice; there needs to be a balance between teaching practice and technology and ensuring the student is at the centre of curriculum design.
Deakin’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) Helen Partridge was on the panel ‘Reach every student at every stage’ along with Dr Greg Winslett (Deputy Director; Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation (ITaLI), University of Queensland) and representatives from Anthology Reach.
The panel discussed student success and how this can be managed effectively and consistently and the importance of defining ‘student success’ as what that might look like to a student. The consensus was that success is quite individual and personal and should be looked at wholistically. Student success can also be linked to student engagement with co-curricular activities in terms of engaging with industry.
Helen discussed managing student progression and the opt-in Learning Analytics for Teachers (LA4T) dashboard pilot at Deakin, where a unit chair has the dashboard connected in their CloudDeakin site and can access real-time data. For example, teaching teams can see when the first assignment is due and see how many students have clicked into that part of the site and follow up with students as needed. Helen discussed how was important that academics had agency and empowerment over the pilot and allowed them to have meaningful relationship with students in the process.
‘Empowering our academics to use data in a really authentic and meaningful way to personalise that experience and the relationship they have with their students is going to be really important.’
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning)
The EduTech Congress and Expo showcases the latest innovations and trends in education technology, and highlights new challenges and opportunities created by the pandemic. Deakin will continue to lead the way in digital innovation with cutting-edge teaching and learning practices and collaborate to create inclusive, sustainable and learner-centred experiences.