Schools for Staff


By Peter Corlett, Waikanae School


A number of teachers from local schools participated in the Rotorua ‘ULearn’ Conference during the second week of the school break.

One thousand, three hundred  teachers took part, including Early Years, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary teachers.

Other participants were international presenters, Ministry Of Education officials, and Trades exhibitors.

Displays include a number of new technologies that are now available to schools – such as  a 3D printer that prints plastic and molds it into the shapes you design, using something like 3-D software.

Then there were robotics, and  digital projectors without the traditional bulbs that use LED and lasers instead so the lights last 9,000 hrs; and technology that will turn any surface into a touch screen.

Teachers took a range of workshops, sharing their experiences, expertise, and ideas about using new technologies in their classrooms.

Internationally-renowned speakers included Dr Jack  Bacon, an American professional engineer and NASA employee who worked on engineering the international Space Station.

He is also a speaker, author and futurist – forecasting likely future human achievements based on the analysis of current trends. In his address

He tracked the significant changes in human societies and human development, and projected the trends.  His message, using data from a range of sources was that the changes caused by the pace of knowledge acquisition  are leading to ‘the Parallel Bang’ – a creative knowledge explosion.

He says change will not occur at a linear rate, or even accelerate exponentially, but will change at a rate that is an ‘exponentially exponential rate’– and that whereas it was likely that a previous generation might experience one single shift in human development, it is likely that we will experience perhaps four or five such shifts.

The challenge for educationalists, he says, is to consider what these ongoing significant societal shifts mean.

He also says this means teachers cannot afford to simply educate students to live in today’s world.

Their task as educators is assist students to learn how to reinvent themselves, and the question of “How do we educate students for this?”

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