Dr Anantha Duraiappah Director UNESCO MGIEP
Highlights from TECH 2017 Conference
By IIEP Learning Portal and UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development
How can digital pedagogies contribute to building peaceful and sustainable societies?
The first edition of the international edtech event entitled ‘Transforming Education Conference for Humanity’ (TECH), organized by the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) with the generous support of the State Government of Andhra Pradesh, and the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, sought to find some answers related to the future of education and the role of technology in building peaceful and sustainable societies. The Conference convened experts, educators, researchers, policy-makers, learners, and all of those interested in connecting new technologies with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular the SDG 4, Target 7.
Under the theme “Digital Pedagogies for Building Peaceful and Sustainable Societies”, over 1,700 participants interacted at a three-day conference, focusing on topics related to 21st century skills, schools and policies such as developing research-based curricula that enhance cognitive learning, socio-emotional skills, and behavioural transformation.
Shri Chandrababu Naidu Chief Minister State Government of Andhra Pradesh
Current debates on how to improve education quality and learning outcomes point to the importance of fostering the so-called 21st century skills needed for individuals to become active citizens, who take part in the construction of more sustainable societies. However, developing these competencies poses a series of challenges to our education systems, calling for new and innovative approaches at different levels and the involvement of a variety of stakeholders. With this in mind, TECH 2017 brought together experts, policy-makers, and learners in order to:
. Address the challenge of achieving equity, quality and accessibility in education at school or higher levels through technology
. Share best practices in digital pedagogies that are learner centric with improving learning outcomes in order that young people acquire the required skills to create just and peaceful societies
. Provide opportunities to the educators to build capacity, so that teachers can employ innovative technologies to deliver education that is transformative and promotes values of peace, global citizenship and sustainable development
. Enable young people to strengthen their skills as social innovators in education.
(Source: UNESCO MGIEP)
Setting the ground for the future editions
The first in a series of annual conferences to be held over the next five years, TECH 2017 gathered learners, educators, and experts from more than 75 countries at the Novotel Varun Beach, in the city of Visakhapatnam, the capital of Andhra Pradesh (India) More than 1,700 attendants had the opportunity to interact through workshops, plenaries, debates, and even virtual reality sessions in the Learning & Start Up Zone of TECH. The event hosted almost 120 presenter sessions and over 50 catalytic speakers, speaking on a variety of themes including Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Learning; Superintelligence and Doing things better; Immersive Technologies for Transformational Impact; and What are the attributes of a future digital learner. Participants learned about transforming physical board games into path-breaking pedagogy for progressive learning from THOTS Labs, and about the future of digital education in neuroscience from the CRI (Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity, France). In addition, attendees took part in the World Rescue Challenge, a mobile-based game on the SDGs released by UNESCO MGIEP and developed by Pixel Perfect. As for the younger participants, UNESCO MGIEP's flagship event Talking Across Generations of Education (TAGe) provided a platform to youth and policy-makers to debate on whether technology increases or decreases the inequality gap in education.
Highly engaged crowd at TECH 2017
An exciting first edition
Some highlights from the event include a Headline Session led by Professor. Sugata Mitra, creator of the Hole in the Wall (HIW) experiment aimed at proving that children could be taught computers very easily without any formal training as well as a highly engaging 15 minute TECH talk by Dr. Anantha Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO MGIEP who spoke of the concept of flipping education and posed a question on the type of education that is required for our children. Dr. Duraiappah expressed that “the goal is not just automating education as many of the education platforms we see today but transforming it.”
Among other key speakers were Vinnie Jauhari, Director – Education Advocacy, Microsoft India; Sylvia Martinez, Co-author of “Invent to Learn, Making, Tinkering and Engineering the Classroom”; Prof. Heather Knight, Assistant Professor of Robotics at Oregon State University, who discussed the topic “Developing Charismatic Robots for the Real World” introduced by Ginger, her robot; Paul Darvasi, an educator and researcher, who designed The Ward Game and recently authored a paper for UNESCO on how digital games can support peace education; and Jordan Shapiro, senior fellow for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and expert in digital technology and education policy.
During the opening ceremony two Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) were signed: the first MOU was between UNESCO MGIEP and the Economic Development Board of Andhra Pradesh seeks to establish a “Games and Digital Learning Hub”, while the second aims at a strategic partnership between Samsung India and UNESCO MGIEP to launch Virtual Reality (VR) and educational content as well as 360 films on UNESCO Heritage Sites in India such as the Sun Temple in Konark and the Taj Mahal in India. Additionally in a long term strategic partnership with the State Government of Andhra Pradesh, UNESCO MGIEP will work towards setting up a school for Difference Learning in Andhra Pradesh by 2018.
TECH 2017 was sponsored by Microsoft India (Education Technology Partner), Samsung India, Dassault Systems, Veative (Immersive Learning Partner) and McGraw Hill (Learning Science Partner). The Knowledge Partners of the Conference included NMIMS, Ubisoft, Quebec Government, ISTE, Social Alpha, EDB and IYC.
TECH 2018 will be held in the latter half of this year in India. Those interested in the field of education and technology are highly encouraged to attend. An official announcement of dates for the event will be made on the MGIEP website in March, 2018.
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