The 7th annual IAT Technological Education Conference (IATTEC 2016) was held this year on the 4th & 5th of April at the Applied Technology Complex in Mohammed Bin Zayed City in Abu Dhabi. The conference theme, "Transforming Learning through Creative Classrooms" aims to provide a platform for developing creative approaches to STEAM classroom practices via the use of a diverse range of pedagogical strategies.

This annual activity is closely aligned with the Institute of Applied Technology vision, which entails preparing students for life and work in a changing economic environment where they will thrive in an era of increasingly rapid change. Besides acquiring the necessary technological skills, there is a strong requirement for students to possess a well-developed set of higher-order thinking skills. One of IAT goals is to stimulate the natural curiosity in young minds and cultivate a passion for learning whereby students will have the ability to think creatively and approach tasks, problems, and situations with confidence and resourcefulness.

The opening ceremony started at 9:30 AM with an opening speech from Mrs Rashida Nachef, director of Applied Technology High Schools who welcomed the audience and shed some light on the rationale behind this years conference theme. This was followed by the keynote speech and featured sessions.

Mr Hanny Alshazly, the regional Director, MEA - D2L Corporation, gave the keynote speech in the first day in which he talked about current technology trends in K-12 schools and how they have evolved from being a classroom luxury to playing a major role in delivering educational programs. He also demonstrated some of the tools that assist instructors manage their day-to-day course work and the role that innovative learning management tools play in ensuring a better learning experience, now and in the future. In addition, he addressed some of the challenges that instructors face in coping with the change and demand of technology when using the internet to deliver course work.

The keynote speech in the first day was followed by three short presentations conducted by selected Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) who show cased some of their initiatives in the educational field through their work as teachers. The three sessions gave some real life examples on transforming classes through technology integration to promote creativity in the classroom, redefining teaching philosophy, and embedding innovative pedagogies.

The second day keynote speech was given by Mr Daniel Edwards, the Director of Digital Strategy at Stephen Perse Foundation schools in Cambridge, UK, who talked about the role of mobile technology in transforming pedagogy, enhancing learning, and challenging the way we think about the learning spaces. He also briefed the audience about key ideas related to important questions about how students have changed their note taking habits and why they seek to create and curate digital portfolios. He further spoke about why teachers have discarded the traditional Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) in favour of more fluid learning platforms and the role that iBeacon technology now plays in the delivery of content and engagement with the physical space. He also discussed the reasons why the Foundation library space looks so different and how we can ensure books still feature as an important component of education. At the end he presented on how coding has changed our approach to the Maths and Science curriculum.

During the two days, teachers were engaged in different workshops and presentations planned for 55 sessions in each day and held by external professionals as well as fellow teachers. The topics of workshops ranged between being general pedagogical and subject-focused. Example of such topics include:

  1. Cultivating Creativity and Innovation in the STEAM Classroom.
  2. Raising Student Achievement through Creative Pedagogical Approaches.
  3. Inspiring Creativity in Students: The Role of School Counsellors.
  4. Using Assessment to Inspire Student Creativity and Innovation.
  5. Project-based Learning and Creative Learning Strategies.
  6. Initiating and Sustaining Creative Education through Collaboration.
  7. Creating an Inquiry-based Experience in the Advanced Placement (AP) Classroom.
  8. Advancing Creativity in STEAM in Academic and Technical Education.
  9. Innovative Mobile Devices and Apps for Creative STEAM based Activities.
  10. Creative thinking: Instilling 21st Century Skills into the Nation’s Future Leaders.

The conference provided invaluable opportunities for professional development to teachers in different areas of Career Technical Education (CTE) underlining the idea of delivering sustained teaching skills using creativity. Teachers had the chance to interact with peers from different schools through activities that were delivered using creative methodologies that incorporate collaboration. The workshops provided a venue for thinking about and reflecting on teaching and student learning in a profound style.


IATTEC 2016 in the news