Article

2019 Teaching & Learning Conference – My take

May 21st, 2019 by Ben Birks

Over the 16th and 17th of May, I had the pleasure of attending the VET Development Centre’s (VDC) 2019 Teaching and Learning Conference at the beautiful RACV Torquay Resort.

The two-day conference was a fantastic experience with high quality keynote speeches and workshops provided by Dr Rich Allen (who also MC’ed), Dr Christine Murphy, Dr Marcus Powe, Martin Probst and Anni Yaringa, each of whom brought unique insights into teaching and learning and moving the vocational sector forward.

The keynote presentations were excellent and went over a range of concepts surrounding the vocational sector, such as how to better engage students through improved questioning, understanding obstacles to creativity and innovation for staff and students, and the importance of assessment standardization and monitoring.

Naturally, the workshops typically emphasised greater interactivity, and this was particularly true of Dr Allen’s and Dr Murphy’s.

Dr Allen’s workshops were very much an ‘on your feet’ experience, emphasising interaction with other attendees and how to translate these strategies into the classroom environment. Dr Allen also made clear the value of using music in the classroom environment to engage students.

Dr Murphy’s first workshop focused on design thinking strategies to evaluate problems and find effective solutions, and provided a case study with which to work through with other attendees to apply the design thinking process. The second workshop emphasised the role of interpretation and perspective, and the group of attendees in the workshop were required to place the images of a story in a logical sequence, without sharing the images we each had.

Dr Powe’s first workshop focused on generating, pitching and evaluating ideas, and understanding the different factors (such as include political, economic and technological factors) that affect whether an idea is viable, or whether it has a ‘fatal flaw’.

Martin Probst discussed the limitations people feel are placed on themselves, and how to empower students to become productive learners. The presentation also went over the role of people’s motivations behind different actions, and the different 21st century skills learners need.

Overall the conference was both an educational and entertaining experience, and the VDC did a fantastic job in hosting.