ISSA Conference 2016

Keynote adresses at ISSA Conference 2016

Is our ECD community ready to tackle the challenges of rapidly changing education landscape?

Dr. Nicholas Burnett - Results for Development Institute (R4D)

At one level, ECD has never got so much global attention - from the Education Commission (with which the speaker worked), from the Global Education Monitoring report (that he once directed), from the new Action Network, from The Lancet series, and from more and more countries investing in ECD.  And rightly - the science is strong, the economics are overwhelming.  At another level, however, ECD, like education as a whole, faces increasing external challenges - learning is ever more important, inequality is worsening, unemployment (especially among youth) is chronic, migration is on everyone's mind (at least in Europe), and so on.  And, within education, it faces also strong competition for funding from other priority areas, especially secondary and vocational education and skills.  How should the ECD community react to these challenges?  What should be its priorities? Can it compete successfully for finance?


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Generation Touch: Hippocratic innovation, empathetic education and creative technology innovation for real social change

Prof. Lizbeth Goodman (BA, MA, MLitt, PhD) - College of Engineering and Architecture at University College Dublin

At an Ideas Salon in the Silicon Valley in 2013, a team of visionaries was brought together from industry, policy and academia to discuss, and to attempt to ‘solve’ two of the biggest global challenges: the broken state of education worldwide, and the broken state of major health services worldwide. I took part in a team given both challenges to solve in tandem and have spent the past three years refocusing some of our SMARTlab team’s efforts on looking at the synergies and interoperability issues of the Connected Education and Connected Health agendas. The Hippocratic agenda iterates A Roadmap to Responsible Open Innovation for Education for ALL, outlined in this paper as a six-lane superhighway to a more inclusive, healthier and more sustainable world economy based on the core idea of Hippocratic Oath - first do no harm…as applied to the field of Education, from Early Years through to lifetime ‘relearning’.  

This presentation outlines the basic principles and philosophy of this new ethos, gives case studies of projects using new technologies which are gaining traction across the six lanes of the superhighway. The six lanes are: Creative Pedagogy and Empathetic Education &, Gender Inclusion & G-STEAM, Assistive Technologies and Inclusive Design for Diversity, Connected Health & Visualisation, 21st Century Statecraft & Knowledge craft: Leaders who do not demand followers (what I call Kinaesthetics and Sensory Design for Generation Touch), and Climate & Cultural Change: towards a Plan C for the next generation. Most importantly, this presentation argues that in the current era, when children in most developed parts of the world have been born into an assumption that every object should ‘perform’ like a screen, and respond to touch instantly, the project of early years education has to change to meet this assumption and to challenge it strategically, and with humour as well as a forward-looking understanding of the importance of touch and of empathy in education. 


Reflections on some key challenges in the early childhood education and care system in Lithuania


Dr. Austeja Landsbergjene - Six Senses International Preschool and Queen Morta School
Dr. Rimantas Zelvys - University of Vilnius, Lithuania 

The year 2016 marked important developments of national policy in early childhood education. Assessment of children in the 2nd grade was introduced for the first time. It‘s a standardized diagnostic assessment which means that formal evaluation of academic achievements is regaining positions lost about two decades ago. It took great efforts to convince both teachers and parents that there is no need to give traditional marks to children in the primary grades. Nowadays primary schools are being ranked and academic achievements are perceived as one of the key criteria in ranking the schools. How are we going to meet this challenge? On the one hand, parents have the right to know how well the educational institution is functioning and how successfully their children are performing. On the other hand, this means leaving social skills and creativity, largely developed through play, as less relevant attributes of learning.  

From September 1, 2016, Lithuania is introducing a compulsory preschool education and parent involvement will become one of the key challenges. Teachers want parents to be active participants in the learning process and are unsatisfied with their passive role. On the other hand, teachers have poor skills for involving parents and cooperating with them. Some parents think they should not be involved at all, especially if they perceive education as a service. So what is the relationship between parent involvement and the concept of education as a service? Does the concept of education as a service include an active involvement of parents? 

There is a continuing discussion about the way preschool and primary teachers should be trained.  In 2016 there were new attempts initiated by national universities to define what kind of teacher training is needed. Currently, the theory/practice ratio is 50/50. Is that enough? If we increase the teacher training practice even more, what will remain of the academic training? Maybe the problem is not how much practice future teachers have but how the teaching practice is organized? What about the highly qualified mentors and their training? Unless we find satisfactory answers to these questions we will continue to deal with the situation when universities train lots of teachers, but schools and kindergartens complain about the lack of highly qualified professionals. 

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News on the Keynote Speakers will follow soon!