Friday, June 7, 2019

EduTECH Sydney on Now

Tom Worthington presenting on microcredentials at EduTECH 2019 Australia. Photo by CAPA President
Photo by CAPA President
Greetings from EduTECH in Sydney. Yesterday I talked on Mobile Learning with Micro-Credentials for International Students, and today chaired three round-table discussions on the topic.
It was exciting to be presenting on the main expo stage, in the middle of the exhibition.  This has the noise and distraction of people walking past, but is much more lively that a conventional presentation room.At one stage I had not had any questions, so did what I do in workshops with students: sprang down from the stage and up to one of the audience who looked like the wanted to ask a question, which they then did, into my microphone.

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) President took a couple of photos and tweeted about my having graduate students respond to a real job ad, and suggesting applying vocational "TAFE-like" approaches for university micro-credentials.

The round-table discussions were also lively, with about seven people who are actively involved and engaged, around the table for half an hour. The round tables attracted about one third people from schools, a third from universities and the remainder from government agencies, vocational education, professional bodies and consultancies.  This made for a lively discussion. I was surprised at the interest in micro-credentials for schools, having assumed it is a higher education issue. Teachers wanted to provide students with more vocationally relevant qualifications, but which were not labeled "VET". Universities, accreditation agencies and professional bodies were all struggling with what micro-credentials are, and how they fit with traditional degrees. The VET people said "we already do this stuff".

Compared to the expo and round-tables, unfortunately the conventional presentations at EduTECH, especially those from senior people, were a bit dull. These were made even less exciting by the lack of question time. The important person would come in, give a canned talk, and leave.

I suggest that the EduTECH organizers, and others running similar industry events, should encourage questions. A tradition which the ACS Canberra Branch has with its annual conference is to take questions from delegates, even for keynotes. It can be a shock for a senior government minister, or industry leader, to be asked a detailed question by a relatively junior professional, but they rise to the challenge and find it refreshing. This takes the presentation to a new level, like good teaching, from one way communication, to interaction.

A format which worked very well at EduTECH Asia 2018, was an online, mobile-enabled system, where the audience could propose questions, and then vote on which should be asked. It was useful in overcoming the embarrassment of asking someone "important" a question.

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