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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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Global Summit 2006: Technology Connected Futures

Carol Daunt
Organising Committee, Global Summit, education.au limited

The 2006 Global Summit for education and training leaders, thinkers and teachers will promote the strategic development of technology-connected futures. Hosted by education.au limited, it follows on from the very successful and prophetic Global Summit of 2002. This year’s Summit will once again provide a forum for the sharing of information, ideas and experiences, as well as offering the opportunity to establish a network of international alliances to address issues of common concern for the future.

Debate and discussion will be organised around the themes of:

  • Elearning in education and training
  • Careers in a connected environment
  • Designing educational web services 
  • Understanding transformation in education
  • Emerging trends in a connected world

A panel of education leaders and thinkers will act as 'provocateurs' to stimulate thinking and creative solutions. Following their presentations, there will be roundtable discussion and collection of ideas led by 'thought leaders' using collaborative decision-making techniques.

There is a need for new ways of thinking about pedagogy in an ICT-enabled world. The Global Summit will articulate what is needed to support students, teachers, managers and educational organisations in this new context. Discussion will cover new ways of learning, the construction of knowledge, communities of practice, distributed access to resources, and networks of learning. It will also examine the extent to which educational services provide for personalised learning.

A range of international leaders and thinkers will contribute. Dr Robert Cailliau is a co-developer of the World Wide Web who has spent the last 30 years working at CERN – the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the world's largest particle physics centre.

Jean Johnson has been involved in a number of high-profile online projects both in the UK and abroad, working with schools in Sweden, Finland, the USA, India, Japan and New Zealand. Projects have included Web for Schools, Learning in the New Millennium, Schools on Line and the Virtual Classroom. In 1998 she was presented with a Teacher of the Year award. Jean developed the Notschool.net research project, working in the field of social inclusion for disadvantaged youth which focused particularly on the creative and innovative use of multimedia to develop learning.

Charles Jennings, Global Head of Learning at Reuters, has for 20 years led learning, eLearning and collaborative learning initiatives for a number of business organisations, the British Government and the European Commission.

They will be joined by Dr George Siemens whose theory of Connectivism addresses the changing nature and needs of learning in a connected world. The principles of this theory are:

  • Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions.
  • Learning is a process of connecting specialised nodes or information sources.
  • Learning may reside in non-human appliances.
  • The capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known. 
  • Connections need to be nurtured and maintained to facilitate continual learning.
  • The ability to see connections between fields, ideas and concepts is a core skill.
  • Currency (accurate, up-to-date knowledge) is the intent of all connectivist learning activities.
  • Decision making is itself a learning process. Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality. While there is a right answer now, it may be wrong tomorrow due to alterations in the information climate affecting the decision.

The Global Summit organisers have invited the neurobiologist Susan Greenfield to join the line-up of speakers. Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield was a Thinker in Residence for the South Australian Department of Premier and Cabinet during July–August 2004 and also in July–August 2005. She recently made some controversial statements in a debate in the House of Lords (20 April) on the topic of new technologies and education. Baroness Greenfield suggests that when we read a book, we travel from the beginning to the middle to the end in a continuous narrative series of interconnected steps. She argues that we then compare one narrative with another and therefore start to build up a conceptual framework that enables us to evaluate further journeys  which in turn will influence our individualised framework, and that this is the basis of education – the building up of a personalised conceptual framework where we can relate incoming information to what we know already.

She compares this to sitting in front of a multimedia presentation where you are unable, because you have not had the experience of many different intellectual journeys, to evaluate what is flashing up on the screen. She maintains that you would be having an experience rather than learning. Here, sounds and sights of a fast-paced, fast-moving, multimedia presentation would displace any time for reflection or any idiosyncratic or imaginative connections that we might make as we turn the pages and then stare at the wall to reflect.

The Global Summit is an innovative event that quite deliberately challenges the traditional conference format in the interests of supporting learning, networking and the development of practical strategies for a technology-connected world. We invite you to join the debate in Sydney, 17–19 October 2006. View more information or register online. 


References & Further Reading

Beyond the Horseless Carriage: Harnessing the Potential of ICT in Education and Training by Gerry White. Download at http://www.educationau.edu.au/jahia/Jahia/pid/51

Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age by Dr George Siemens: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

House of Lords debates, Thursday, 20 April 2006: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2006-04-20a.1219.0&m=100257


Subject Headings

Educational planning
Computer-based training
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)