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National Education Summit attracts high-profile speakers

To ensure the National Education Summit focuses on topics that are close to its core, its professional development seminars this year include two new topics that have drawn speakers with near-celebrity status on social media.

AI and sustainability – two of the most prevalent topics in education this year – will feature prominently at the National Education Summit.

When the International Exhibition and Conference Group, the organisers behind the National Education Summit, were planning this year’s event, two areas of education stood out by omission from previous years – AI in the Classroom, and Sustainability in Schools.

For CEO Marie Kinsella, it was imperative that the summit addressed these topics this year.

“The National Education Summit has been designed to support educators at all levels of K-12 education. Principals, teachers, leadership teams and staff will benefit from hearing from leading industry experts and fellow educators all willing to share their expertise and contemporary ideas,” she says.

“AI and sustainability are two areas of focus with schools researching the role that AI will play in Australian classrooms, and incorporating sustainability principles across various subjects and levels. We invite you to meet, under one roof, to connect, energise and share ideas and experience with each other.”

It’s timely, as the Australian Government Department of Education’s inaugural Australian Framework for Generative Artificial Intelligence in Schools is being implemented in Term 1, 2024.

Key to the framework is the privacy, security and safety of students, with the framework making clear that generative AI tools should only be used in ways that “… respect and uphold privacy and data rights, comply with Australian law, and avoid the unnecessary collection, limit the retention, prevent further distribution, and prohibit the sale of student data”.

In addition to privacy, security and safety, the framework prioritises teaching and learning outcomes, human and social wellbeing, transparency, fairness and accountability.

Minister for Education Jason Clare says generative AI presents opportunities for students and teachers, but there are also risks such as the privacy and safety of school children.

“We will continue to review the framework to keep pace with developments in generative AI and changes in technology,” he says.

“If we get this right, generative AI can help personalise education and make learning more compelling and effective, and this framework will help teachers and school communities maximise the potential of this new technology.”

In addition to AI in the Classroom and Sustainability in Schools, the key pillars of the National Education Summit’s professional development events include: Capacity Building School Libraries; Diverse Learners; Classroom of the Future, and Wellbeing for Future Focused Schools.

While the National Education Summit’s seminars for teachers will take place in two major cities, Melbourne and Brisbane, the guest speakers at each venue differ.

AI in the Classroom

Melbourne speakers

As one of the key pillars at the summit this year, ‘AI in the Classroom’ will explore tips and tools for using AI in the classroom. Opening the ‘AI in the Classroom’ session in Melbourne is Dr Raul Rodriguez, Vice President of Woxsen University in Kamkole, India. Dr Rodriguez’s specific area of expertise is the intersection of cognitive psychology with machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, computer vision, robotic process automation, and quantum AI.

Dr Raul Rodriguez.

A regular keynote speaker at international events, with more than 22,000 followers on LinkedIn, Dr Rodriguez has co-authored several books in the field of psychology and humantech interface and is a contributing writer to various magazines in the field of analytics and emerging technologies.

His presentation at the National Education Summit, ‘Mastering the Talent-Tech Equation: Thriving in a Rapidly Evolving Digital Landscape’, will address how the intersection of talent and technology presents both opportunities and challenges for next-generation leaders.

This interactive session aims to equip participants with the skills and strategies necessary to navigate the talent-tech equation and become catalysts for innovation. Through an engaging format, participants will explore real-world examples, exchange insights, and gain practical knowledge to excel in an increasingly tech-driven world. (Dr Rodriguez will also deliver his presentation to delegates in ‘AI in the Classroom’ stream at the National Education Summit in Brisbane in August 2024).

Mr Chris Bush, Head of Student Voice and Leadership at University High School, a public co-educational secondary school in Parkville, Melbourne, will present on harnessing the transformative power of AI.

Mr Bush, who also has a strong online following, will discuss effective prompt engineering for curriculum planning, differentiation, marking and feedback. Participants will learn about the latest AI tools along with their ability to be a game-changer in their learning community.

The closing session in the ‘AI in the Classroom’ stream – How to build a custom AI tutor for your school – will be presented by Mr David Howard, Head of Digital Learning and Practice at Wesley College, a co-educational private school in Melbourne with campuses in Glen Waverley, Elsternwick and Prahran.

During Mr Howard’s workshop, participants will get hands on with a ChatGPT-powered chat bot that students are using to develop enquiry questions.

The bot has been developed by the Digital Learning and Practice team at Wesley College so that it is primed with a prompt to focus on one task.

The session will provide a step-by-step process to create an AI-powered chat bot to deploy for students; no code, no developers, little cost, and unlimited potential.

Brisbane speakers

In Brisbane, the ‘AI in the Classroom’ program will be opened by Ms Miriam Scott, Head of Digital Education at Hillbrook Anglican School, an independent, co-educational secondary school in Enoggera, Brisbane.

Miriam Scott.

Ms Scott will take participants through integrating ethical use of generative AI in a way that is both purposeful and effective, and how leaders can support staff in this evolving landscape. She will look at using generative AI to “work smarter, not harder”.

Ms Scott is creator of Instagram study tool, @scottybreaksitdown, and the Queensland Senior Business Teachers Group.

Following Ms Scott’s presentation, Ms Kelly Ilich, an academic at Curtin University, will deliver a session on the role of teachers in promoting critical thinking in a digital age.

“In a rapidly evolving digital age, misinformation and extremist views have found fertile ground to grow, leveraging algorithms that often echo and reinforce preexisting biases,” she says.

“This crucial session will explore the intersections between misinformation, extremism, and algorithmic literacy, focusing on the pivotal role of educators in shaping the critical thinking abilities of students.”

This session is suitable for educators at all levels and aims to:
• Equip attendees with a foundational understanding of the relationship between algorithms, misinformation, and extremism.
• Provide practical strategies for educators to promote algorithmic literacy and critical thinking skills.
• Foster a collaborative dialogue on the collective responsibility of educators, tech industry leaders, and policymakers in shaping a resilient and discerning digital citizenry.

Mr Anthony England, Director of Innovative Learning Technologies at Pymble Ladies’ College, will lead a hands-on session on how to get the most out of various AI tools. Participants will need to bring a device.

“There is an art to engineering the right prompt – whether it’s for text, image, video or audio,” he says.locating these tools within your unique context and so we will have a specific lens on AI in the classroom to aid both the teacher and student.”

National Education Summit’s ‘AI in the Classroom’ program will take place on Saturday 15 June 2024 at Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, and on Friday 2 August 2024 at Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Sustainability in Schools

Melbourne speakers

How can schools be more sustainable? How do schools teach sustainability? The National Education Summit is tackling these questions in a conference targeting those in leadership and specialist roles, and classroom teachers.

“Sustainability education in Australian schools is a vital component of the curriculum, aiming to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to address environmental, social, and economic challenges for a more sustainable future,” Margo Metcalf, Creative Director, IEC Group, says.

“The Australian education system incorporates sustainability principles across various subjects and levels, reflecting the nation’s commitment to environmental stewardship and responsible citizenship.”

Opening the session in Melbourne is Ms Katie Pahlow, Director of Regions and Community Action at Sustainability Victoria.

Sustainability Victoria has been managing ResourceSmart Schools, an award-winning sustainable schools program, since 2008. The program has helped schools to save more than $45 million in resource costs and avoid over 110,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

ResourceSmart Schools assists schools to embed sustainability into all they do by providing a framework of activities, free access to a local facilitator and their own school portal where they can track and measure the impact of their activities.

“Students’ views about environmental sustainability can lead to better learning engagement and a connection and belonging to school,” Ms Pahlow says.

The session on Sustainability in Schools will also include a workshop which will unpack the learnings from a 2023 Google-funded partnership project between Design and Technology Teachers Association (DATTA) Victoria and Environment Education Victoria (EEV).

Mr Peter Murphy, Program Manager at Banyule Nillumbik Tech School on behalf of DATTA Victoria, and Marika Wong, Education and Curriculum Support Officer at EEV, will present the Digital Design for Sustainability workshop.

The session will demonstrate how schools can develop and deliver their own Digital Design for Sustainability program.

Following the workshop, Ms Jo Connor, Executive Officer at EEV, and Ms Maud Cassaignau, Architect and Urban Designer, will present a session on exploring climate adaptation strategies for school grounds.

“Climate Change has significant implications for schools – from impacts on student cognition, to safe practices around heat, eroded surfaces and extreme weather. Climate Change will require schools to change how they design and use their grounds and manage scheduling,” organisers say.

Ms Connor will speak about the partnership between EEV, RMIT, local schools and council to investigate landscape approaches to climate adaptation in school grounds.

Ms Cassaignau will discuss the research report findings: how students and staff in the Landscape Architecture Design Studios developed and refined ideas at the two school sites in Melbourne’s suburbs, and the themes and key learnings that can be applied to schools generally.

Brisbane speakers

To open the Sustainability in Schools conference at the National Education Summit in Brisbane, Mr Jason Smith, Principal at Tamborine Mountain State School (awarded one of Australia’s most sustainable schools) will explain how the school engages and immerses its students in environment and sustainability programs and projects with support from staff, local businesses and community partners.

Joining him will be Ms Vanessa Bermingham, Head of Innovation and Learning at St Laurence’s College, speaking about integrating sustainability into the curriculum using project-based learning and industry partnerships.

Vanessa Bermingham.

“Embedding sustainability into the curriculum can be a challenge in ensuring that students experience real-world connections and understand that true sustainability is not just ecology, but an integration of multiple disciplines,” she says.

“Integration can be done through Science from years 7-10, through Project Based Learning as the key pedagogical approach and partnerships with universities and environmental education centres.”

Ms Bermingham’s presentation will explore three different units that can be done in years 7 and 9.

OzHarvest’s FEAST High School Program will be the focus of the closing session, presented by Ms Madison Lucas, FEAST National Project Lead. FEAST (Food Education and Sustainability Training) is designed to inspire students to eat healthy, waste less and become future changemakers and inspire their community.

FEAST addresses the Australian Curriculum in Design and Technologies and Food Specialisations content and combines sustainability and healthy eating in a curriculum ready package for Australian high schools.

Ms Lucas’s presentation will explore the successes and challenges involved in developing and implementing FEAST as a classroom-based sustainable initiative and discuss positive results following from the program. EM

National Education Summit’s ‘Sustainability in Schools’ conference will take place on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 June 2024 at Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, and on Saturday 3 August 2024 at Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.

For more information about the National Education Summit conference and expo, visit

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