Change and a Better Future

As part of the scholarship application process for Creative Innovation 2011, I was asked to respond to the question,  “In this super-connected world, what is your idea for change and a better future?”

This is my response.

Catalyzed by technology and fueled by creativity and innovation, fundamental and exponential change is now a common part of the super-connected world in which we inhabit. In this rapidly changing world in which we live, technology is driving change and is increasingly a means for empowerment, a method of communication and socializing, and a ubiquitous, transparent part of many people’s lives.

A better future can be achieved by harnessing the potential of technology to provide equitable access to quality education thus ensuring systemic and fundamental restructuring and economic prosperity for all. By leveraging open content and the idea of having the entire sum of all human knowledge at your finger tips, barriers of geographic isolation, socio-economic status and disadvantage are removed. Young people now have the ability to learn what they want, when they want and from whom they want and are not constrained by their location or the knowledge and quality of their teacher. Young people now have a voice and can be a contributor to peace, economic and education reform, the improvement of public services and many other aspects of society.

Traditional schools currently face a challenge unprecedented in our history. How do we adequately prepare students for a future that is yet to exist and constantly changing? How do we ensure students enter the workforce with the most important skill of the 21st century – learning how to learn?

To meet these challenges, I have been part of a team establishing a new initiative, Quantum Victoria.

Quantum Victoria is a new centre of excellence and innovation in science and mathematics which is currently being built in Melbourne, Australia. Quantum Victoria aims to re-energize science and mathematics education across Australia by:

  • Increasing students’ interest, participation and engagement in science and mathematics, and encouraging more students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
  • Expanding the knowledge base of teachers and increasing teacher capacity to engage students

Our blend of in-house and online outreach programs will embrace cutting edge, aspirational technologies with a particular focus on games technology, providing virtual reality experiences, augmented reality, CAD, 3D Printing, robotics and mechatronics.

We are currently involved in International consortia that are investigating:

  • New and best practices in online education for STEM students and the professional development of teachers
  • New models of student-driven STEM learning that are engaging, lead to higher retention rates and promote learning how to learn.

With the increasing pervasiveness and ubiquity of technology the physical, social and virtual worlds are colliding, merging and enabling us to form new ideas about teaching and learning. At Quantum Victoria, we believe that all children can excel in STEM disciplines, including computer science, which they will need to work in the multi-disciplinary, high-tech industries of the 21st century.

The obstacles we currently face as we implement our initiative include old mindsets and resistance to change. Quantum Victoria believes that new, innovative forms of teacher professional development are the cornerstone to building teacher capacity in the 21st century. To excite the next generation of STEM students, Quantum Victoria will offer educators a unique opportunity to re-envision their curriculum in ways that are relevant for today’s learner.

Students with STEM skills, combined with innovation and entrepreneurship, will be equipped to find solutions to current and future problems such as clean and renewable energy, climate change, poverty, health, etc. and this will lead to changes that ultimately improve the world.

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