Martin Westwell at the DEECD Innovations Showcase

Yesterday I was fortunate to be able to head up to Melbourne to take in the local Victorian Department of Education’s Innovations Showcase. During the day there were a number of parallel presentations highlighting the work of numerous innovative teachers across the state. There were also a couple of keynote presentations, one of which was from Martin Westwell, Director of the Flinders Centre for Science Education in the 21st Century. The following is a copy of my Coveritlive record of his presentation.

The red text is my commentary on what Martin was saying.

Martin Westwell, Director of the Flinders Centre for Science Education in the 21st Century (05/15/2009)
Looking at some predictions from the past, all of which are very funny viewed through the lens of hindsight. Love the good wives guide
When we make predictions for the future we pretty much always end up being wrong because we deduce trends by looking to the past
Now referring to the work of Kerzweil For another take on this see
If we accept the work of Kurzweill looking to the future we will have 100 years of progress in the next 25 years and exponential progress after that.
Whether this is the case or not, the only constant of the future will be change.
Suggesting that there has never been a generation Z because the usual notion of a generation is that they have traditionally spanned a period or part period of change. Because change is occuring so rapidly generations are now seeing more than one change in their lifetime.
The number of years that span a generation is too small to talk about the concept of a generation
Unlike in the past where the graph of change had periods of equilibrium this is no longer the case. Change is the straight line trend upwards
Question how do we meet the needs of folk in this era and what do we mean by intelligence, creativity productivity
How do the characteristics change the way we do things, work, play, THINK
Looking at the inside of the brain More space is taken with connections than the cells themselves
Looking at neuroscientists notions of how repetition and emotion affect learning, how the biochemistry of the brain can enhance or hinder the connection and repetition hence learning
The bigger picture aspect is the transformation of information to construction of knowledge, (the creation of links between these blocks of knowledge in the interconnectivity of brain cells)
Question is how this relates to Information Technology
Systems such as education departments do not how to deal with the plethora of knowledge. Relating the story of Dr Ken Boston and how they dealt with student plagarism via the internet via sites such as The departmental answer was to concentrate more on unseen examination type assessment rather than ongoing formative assessment that took advantage of the type of knowledge pool that is
Making point that we are moving from a question rich-answer poor society to a question poor-answer rich one
Suggesting therefore that educationalists should be assessing the questions students ask rather than the answers they give.
Making the point that it’s not the technology that changes how we do things, its what we do with the technology
The biggest plus and minus with this explosion in accessibility to knowledge is that we can now access more of the extremes, both positive and negative.
We should not be spending money on teaching the nuts and bolts of using technology but on the how to use it effectively to solve problems
Showing us the medal of honour game
Looking at study on video game surgeons compared with non-video playing surgeons. Video gamers were quicker more accurate in how they performed their operations. (Looking further there was no other obvious correlation eg via age, sex, etc)

The research didn’t show a causitive relationship however ie it was impossible to say that good video players will make good surgeons or vice versa??

Young people today want the money today. They strategise to achieve this more than generations of the past.
2 Types of things happen in the brain, controlled thinking of one thing at a time is frontal lobe stuff as opposed to automatic( the majority), non-conscious whole of brain eg braking car
There is a constant interplay between each
Automatic often takes precedence
Question is it in the genes? No there is no one particular gene for any characteristic
Looking at Huntingtons disease and mice and how placing the mice in an enriched environment can moderate the outcomes of the disease.
Relating to this to education and how the following can effect it. Education needs to be

  • multi-sensory
  • relevant
  • respond to emotional content
  • interpersonal interaction
  • enable interdependent learning
  • foster parental engagement
  • include exercise
  • include appropriate nutrition
  • and utilise blue light
There are some myths associated with these though

  • Learning styles
  • Brain Gym
  • Water makes you smarter
Exploring the idea that education can be either lighting a candle, (showing the way and illuminating opportunities), or filling a bucket, (pouring in knowledge).
Generally though people prefer the known over the unknown which sometimes sacrifices opportunity for the sake of security.

Because of time Martin closed on this point.

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7 Responses to Martin Westwell at the DEECD Innovations Showcase

  1. Pingback: Martin Westwell at the DEECD Innovations Showcase « MyPage Builder

  2. jennylu says:

    Thanks John. You do such a good job with cover it live. Once again you’ve given me some PD to access after the event. I really appreciate what you do.

  3. johnp says:

    Thanks for the kind words Jenny, I actually find the discipline of trying to marshall thoughts, turn them into something vaguely intelligible and keep up with the flow quite powerful, you certainly don’t get distracted. I’ve got another one from Jason Smith to upload probably tomorrow though he wasn’t quite as interesting as Martin was, (pity he had to cut things short).

  4. johnp says:

    Readers of this post might also like to check out the 2008 ASPA Conference Report of a similar presentation by Martin. The author of that record has more detail than I was able to capture in my CoverItLive.

  5. Julie says:

    Great work John. This takes the hard work out of taking notes from the keynotes! Thanks for your support of the event.

    • johnp says:

      My pleasure Julie, at least I know where to find the notes for future reference tho I m not totally sure that CoverItLive is easier in process than pen and paper 🙂

  6. Pingback: Martin Westwell Innovations Showcase Update « My Other Blog

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