Thursday, 28 May 2015

Individual Action Needed to Change Education.

 “Real change in education can only be achieved by individual action rather than top down dictation” said Ciaran Cannon, T.D. at the opening of the Excited Digital Learning Festival in Dublin Castle.

According to Mr. Cannon, who is one of the organisers of the festival, everyone has the potential to be a learning revolutionary and that through inspiring others to embrace technology, real grass roots transformation can happen in education.  He also added that while leadership is important, teachers and students working together are staging a quiet learning revolution within Irish schools by using technology to foster new learning.

Building on the festival theme of “Growing our Network - Recruiting Revolutionaries” Gavin Dykes, Programme Director, Education World Forum told the 275 delgates that they needed to challenge their own conservatism and to have open minds to the potential of technology and new ways of educating.  He also highlighted the need to continually listen to students and to ensure that the student voice is integrated into learning.  Commenting on funding needs for programmes he said that money is important but should not be a barrier to progress and that creative approaches can be run on minimum budgets.

“Make your initiatives learning centric, not technology centric”  CEO, Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), Keith R. Krueger said as he challenged the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to change focus to BYOL (Bring Your Own Learning) where experience and knowledge triumph.  He also added that technology is a catalyst and is powerful in enabling new learning, but it is not an end in itself.  While highlighting the importance of bringing leaders along with any technology revolution he said that “bottomup only revolutions don’t scale and sustain”.  In closing he told attendees that they should capitalise on the incredible resources available globally and learn from other countries by studying other educational systems.

Over 150 school students from around the country also took part in a series of workshops organised by the Science Gallery where they made their own human pianos, build and raced their own race cars and made maps of Dublin using recycled and repurposed goods.  Students workshop were also delivered showing how ‘Little Bits’, which is a system of electronic modules that snap together with magnets, could change the teaching of physics and electronics.

The festival kicked off on Thursday with  a content creation workshop delivered the Glen Mulchaly from RTE to the Digital Youth Council, who will present their plans for 2015 and annouce the new members of the council on Saturday of the festival. 

Saturday of the festival will see over 350 people gather for a series of talks and discussions from how local schools are using technology to communicate with other students globally,  how gamification in the classroom can dramatically change learning and student engagement, the possibilities of educational technology and collaboration and finishing up with a prestation by Mona Akmal on Coding and Creativity.

Students from around the country also showcased their technology projects. 

The Excited Digital Learning Festival is an independent and not for profit initiative.    The Excited Digital Learning Festival is supported by Science Foundation Ireland through the 2014 SFI Discover Programme Funding Call, the Department of Education & Skills, the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources and SAP.

EXCITED provides a unique opportunity, the first of its kind, for those with an interest in Irish education at all levels to engage directly with teachers, student representatives, enterprise leaders, academics and policy makers at a senior level.  The engagement of parties is not that of passive recipients, but rather an engagement of mutual collegiality and respect, acknowledging that such an opportunity to debate and plan the future of education in Ireland is timely and valuable.  EXCITED creates an opportunity for students to clearly articulate to decision makers their opinions on learning and how they wish to see technology embedded in their educational experience.  It gives trailblazing teachers and students a platform to showcase their work and to robustly engage with numerous other professionals directly involved in education; more specifically, those who see technology as an enabling and transformational tool to be used in the classroom and in the home.  It gives leading academics and enterpreneurs an opportunity to speak about global innovation in education and in particular how Ireland can lead the way in the digital learning revolution.   The festival lays the foundations for something profoundly beneficial to happen; it creates a willingness amongst a diverse group of attendees to work cohesively as partners for the betterment of the coming generations. It builds a deep sense of mutual trust between all stakeholders, a trust that the EXCITED Movement will now lead and act upon.

The Excited Movement began its journey in 2014 with the organising of the two-day EXCITED Digital Learning Festival in Dublin Castle.  As an independent entity it has the unique ability to bring together the diverse interests of students, teachers, industry and Government in a safe, non agenda environment with the single vision of improving the role of technology in education. 

The success of EXCITED the Digital Learning Festival, in unleashing the intense passion for improved learning through technology, spawned the creation of the EXCITED Movement. 

The EXCITED Movement is unique in that it utilises its centralised magnetic position to add scale and delivery mechanism to new and existing programmes.  As a result ideas from industry (individual and companies) can be rapidly deployed through to teachers and students while representative voices of students can be channelled back to organisations and government.

Not only can EXCITED connect these audiences but it has established channels to ensure ideas can be delivered into tangible projects and actions such as EU Code Week, The Hour of Code, The Digital Youth Council, Africa Code Week and initiatives in Robotics.

Connecting: We are building a national network of groups and individuals with a common vision for education and a desire to be powerful advocates for change.

Championing: We seek out trailblazing teachers and students across Ireland and encourage others to be inspired by their work and follow in their footsteps.

Creating: We are collaborating with education and industry leaders to create a world-class digital learning ecosystem where innovation is nurtured and facilitated.