2 Top Leaders in Australian Ed Tech (Or How a Non Digital Native is Coming Out of the Dark)

An educator since the early 90’s, I’ve certainly seen changes to our relationship with technology in the classroom. As an 80’s high school student I recall being placed in front of a clunky computer as punishment for not understanding maths.

It worked. I still don’t understand maths.

For my first 10 years of teaching we had no access to computers or emails. Photocopies were king and even then only on request. 

 Now of course the job can’t be imagined without either.

Clearly I’m not a digital native but the daily demands of my profession require the use of tech every day: to manage data, to communicate with the colleague beside me and the students in my classroom, to prepare lessons and to order lunch from the canteen.

It was going to take a special tech leader – or a therapist –to lead me and many like me out of the chalkie wilderness to a place of ed tech trust.

Lucky for me, I was already working with one. Then last week, I met another.

What Ed Tech Leadership in a School Looks Like:

The appointment last year of our new Leader of Pedagogy (LOP) Matt Cato who is not only an excellent TAS teacher of IT, but a fully-fledged tech nerd with the patience of Job.

As an added bonus Cato not only knows his stuff, but as a teacher and not an IT geek working from some far flung broom cupboard at the back of the school, he is at the teacher’s coal face daily. He gets the daily grind. He sees past the perfect world we like to imagine about our classrooms when the school executive goes on a tech bender. Cato knows what can work in a classroom and he gently leads the non-digital natives like myself to the ed tech light. He answers all our questions. Without laughing. He visits classrooms. He slows down his instructions to us. He repeats instructions for the people talking up the back. Or the latecomers. He totally gets his audience and the learning needs of non digital natives.

He makes learning fun.

What Ed Tech Leadership in Australia Looks Like:

My first introduction to ed- tech outside of school was when I approached an ed- tech company last year to write content for them.

I was so green. I knew so little about what the ed tech world was. But this commissioning was a portal into the most dynamic and rapidly evolving education landscape I could possibly imagine. And one that I had no idea existed! With my arts education background, any word of ‘tech’ given my earlier childhood maths and computer trauma was probably reason enough for me to avoid it.

But I faced my fear. As I’m doing right now writing this post. About ed-tech.

(Who am I again?)

Occupying a larger stage on the Australian ed-tech landscape is David Linke, MD of EduGrowth, Australia’s nursery and hub of ed tech companies. Its focus is on ‘reimagining learning in the digital age’ through connection and collaboration by providing programmes that focus on developing the entire education technology and innovation sector. 

David is a passionate and visionary leader and collaborator. He cares about the people in his orbit and he is driven by ‘building’ them with access to opportunity, responsibility and accountability. He constantly includes and shares with them Edugrowth’s goal driven narrative, and he generously shares his vast experience in the education sector evidenced by the time he took to speak to me after a missive I lobbed into his LinkedIn messages.

With a LOP like Matt Cato at school level and MD David Linke at the helm of the nation’s ed-tech nursery, ed tech in Australia is shaping up to be the collaborative and enabling force it should be.

Talking of collaboration, I’d love to be able to say to LOP’s around the country: meet David. David, meet a LOP. (And while you’re here, take a step inside the teacher training halls in the country and work your magic…!)

So, what is the common leadership denominator between Matt and David ? What drives them both is a deep commitment to simply making education more available and ed-tech more varied to meet a range of needs and contexts, and promote tech that enables quality learning experiences 

They each consider and center the learner and their human needs in this bright and shiny 21c education landscape.

And the learner is both teacher and student, teacher and student. It’s a beautiful cycle.

Socrates would be proud.  

(And now I’ve got to rush off and guide Matt to the wonders of LinkedIn. See? Even non digi natives can help our tech nerds with tech stuff. #learnerteachercycle ).

(C) Penny McKee 2022