There’s no time for re-takes on in this PL stage, however.
Over in the K-12 Leaders hall, Prof Adam Gazzaley, straight from the Neuroscience Imaging Center at the University of California takes up the mic.
Gazzaley is here to show delegates how advances in neuroscience and technology can be fused together to actually re-wire and improve students’ cognitive abilities.
Technologies that can boost the brains’ function? They're already here, the experts says - and it’s a good thing, too.
Gazzaley argues we are in the midst of a “cognition crisis”, and that as humans, our mental health is declining. Schools are no exception to this.
Mental health issues are rife in schools, he says to rousing murmurs of agreement, and this is impairing our children’s memory, imagination, creativity, perception – even their ability to show compassion and regulate their emotions.
As a society we need to make mental health a “global priority” and seek out ways of enhancing our cognition so that we can not just survive, but meet our “high level” goals.
Technology, Gazzaley asserts, can be used to revolutionise our education system, to transform our inadequate assessment regimes and really extend the unique processing systems that fire up each child’s brain.
Technology, in a nutshell, can help us to build a “multi-modal” approach to learning that can challenge young minds in ways in which they need to be.
Now Gazzaley gets to the nitty gritty of his sweeping premise.
“Experiences are the gateway to our brains' plasticity; the entire basis of all learning,” he says.
Video games, in particular, are a powerful form of interactive media that can create “closed loop” systems of feedback to the gamer that can fuel deep neurological functions.
In short, rewards and feedback that occur through “deep immersion” gameplay are known to improve brain function.
In his quest to “bridge the gap between technology and neuroscience”, Gazzaley is working on developing a whole system of games that can offer targetted learning experiences. Games that can tap into each of our neurological abilities and hone in on the areas that need work.
It’s a “surgical approach to how we process information” he says.
Video games, he adds, might be able to help humanity in another crucial way: to treat neurological disorders.
For 60 years we have been using medicine to try and fix conditions like ADHD and depression, but what if we could design “therapeutic video games” that could re-wire and heal these affected brains?
If the world does indeed face a “cognition crisis” Gazzaley has just planted a few small seeds of hope.
"Technology has challenged a lot of our goals in education, and we know it’s about to get a lot more complicated. But there is great promise here," he says.
Next up is Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education at Microsoft, who urges educators to fearlessly embrace change and to strive for a growth mindset model within their school communities.
“Mindset drives the change we need in schools,” he says.
He also adds that the greatest schools are the ones that start with people, and where the whole school community’s vision and values are aligned.
He coins the term ‘phigital’ in describing today’s students, meaning they are unable differentiate between the physical and digital worlds.
Students have changed, he says, the way we learn has changed, and the workplace has changed and the kind of jobs we need have changed.
“These things should change the energy of what we’re doing in schools,” he says.
“In a world where content is limitless, where learning can take place anywhere anytime, we need to think differently about what we’re learning and assessing.
“This landscape opening up increases the need for amazing teachers. The role of innovative teaching is more fundamental than ever before.”