Dr Michael Henderson – ECAWA Keynote Speaker

Digital Technologies: wicked problems and playful designs

Dr Michael Henderson
Learning with New Media Research Group
Faculty of Education, Monash University


What would happen if we were more playful in thinking about digital technologies in education?

Digital technologies are often talked about as solutions – artefacts and practices that can be simply parachuted from one classroom to the next to solve problems or improve outcomes.

While there is the potential for great results, they are rarely achieved without considerable skill and orchestration by educators who can adapt to the ripples of complexity caused by inserting new technologies and practices. For some of us this is a challenge we can thrive on – constantly adapting and innovating. For some of our colleagues, and for some of our students, it creates a difficult and sometimes an insurmountable barrier.

Every day, and perhaps even more so with the changing curriculum, we are faced with the ‘wicked problem’ of bringing together the potentiality of technology with the complexity of education, not least the diversity of students, teachers, schools and policy. However, this is not something we can or should shy away from. Instead we can celebrate the wicked complexity of digital technologies in education and use the opportunity to leverage new ways of thinking, teaching and working.

In this keynote Michael Henderson will talk about the wicked problem we face, and how we can borrow from design thinking to simultaneously engage in critical, optimistic and pragmatic futures. In addition, he will talk about the potential flaw in design thinking and how playfulness might hold the key – for teaching, learning and even school reform.

This address will be the Opening Keynote Address of the ECAWA 2015 State Conference on Thursday the 16th of April.


Michael Henderson will also make a presentation in the Concurrent programme.


Using digital technology to provide powerful assessment feedback

Dr Michael Henderson and Dr Michael Phillips
Learning with New Media Research Group
Faculty of Education, Monash University

Have you ever felt frustrated that students don’t read or understand your feedback?

The two most common forms of providing assessment feedback to students have been written comments on the assignment or face to face discussions. However research reveals that written comments are often limited in depth and marred by ambiguity while face to face discussions are often impractical and dependent on student memory.

Digital technologies do not inherently remove these problems, but they do offer some simple, easy and fast ways we can improve clarity and detail while also increasing student satisfaction and shaping their future plans.

At its simplest this involves annotating documents with written comments. However, there are a variety of other options such as ‘talking heads’, screencasting and ‘talk aloud’ problem solving.

In this session the presenter will report on a survey of 300 school students and the ways in which the teachers implemented digital technologies to improve their formative and summative assessment feedback. This will include principles of effective feedback design, as well as examples of the simple and free technologies we used. The presenter will also invite you to talk about your experiences in using technology to support feedback.


Dr Michael Henderson spends most of his time being enjoyably frustrated with the ‘wicked problem’ of educational technology.

Michael is senior researcher in Educational Technology in the Faculty of Education at Monash University. He researches in the field of eLearning and teaches postgraduate studies in digital instructional design and critical thinking around ‘edtech’. Over the past decade he has provided expert advice to Australian and international agencies in the field of eLearning, cybersafety and assessment. Michael’s research ranges from early childhood to tertiary settings, and has ranged across virtual learning environments, virtual worlds, social media including the risks of teaching with social network sites, the role of data in schools, and technology based feedback.

Prior to joining Monash University Michael taught for 10 years in regional and metropolitan schools in both Australia and the United Kingdom. He continues to be involved in schools through his many projects and being a proud member of the Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria (DLTV) Management Committee and co-editor of their journal. Michael is a lead editor for the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology and is a foundation member of the ‘Learning with New Media Research Group’, which provides leadership in rigorous empirical research into teaching and learning and the roles of technologies. He is currently editing a text book for pre-service teachers on “Teaching and Digital Technologies: critical issues and big ideas.”


Join Dr Michael Henderson at the ECAWA 2015 State Conference at Scotch College.

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