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Keynote: Dominic Liechti - The Future of Learning with Apple

Dominic LiechtiDominic Liechti develops worldwide education strategy for Apple, and this year, was one of uLearn19’s keynote speakers. Impressing the crowd, Liechti opened his keynote with a mihi in te reo, and his pepeha. It is clear, Aotearoa’s uniquely bicultural essence has left a lasting mark in his heart and mind!


E te rangatira, tēnā rawa atu koe.

Liechti posed the question, How do we empower learners today and prepare them for tomorrow? He talked about how Apple is positioned at the intersection of Technology and the Liberal Arts, and provides tools for educators and students to, learn in innovative ways, using powerful technologies that can make amazing things possibleTechnology is having a monumental shift on how we live (and learn), and the question that underpinned the rest of his keynote; was whether its impact is having a positive, or detrimental effect on education and society.


He talked about the shift from the ‘Industrial Age’, to the ‘Information Age’, to the ‘People Age’. In the People Age, he said, we are at the centre of the intended purpose and outcomes for technology, and we should use technologies in the service of people and humanity. The rise of automation still requires creativity, imagination, critical thinking, and analysis as key elements of being human, but how will we ensure these are taught, and a focus in our school programmes?  


Liechti reiterated that interpersonal skills will continue to grow in importance. The challenge he made to us, was how can technology support these skills, rather than act as a barrier between people? He told us that Apple has recently surveyed educators and a key theme that came through in the results; was the importance of technology and devices being connected and personal, creative and collaborative, and owned by the learner.

Dominic Liechti 2

Another question he posed was, how can relationships deepen learning? It is interesting to consider the alignment here to the OECD 7 Principles of Learning and the influence of emotions in learning. Technology is emotionally neutral, or even bereft of emotion, according to one perspective, but it can also enhance or diminish our ability to have meaningful interactions with others. Some challenges for us to consider as educators concern, how we engender an emotional response through the use of technology - that also strengthens learning.


Liechti sees a future where the single purpose app is no longer ‘a thing’, and where 3D technologies give access to curriculum content in increasingly immersive and engaging ways. Apple predicts that augmented reality will be an important part of the education experience in the future and is already showcasing ways students can engage with artworks, museums, tourist sites and virtual classrooms.  


He talked about using immersive technologies in personalised ways that enable a learning experience for students that couldn’t happen in any other way. He gave an example of Australian aboriginal communities developing and using iBooks/interactive books in local languages and that also reflect local culture.  


Liechti described ‘adaptive systems’ as the next step from more fixed and teacher determined solutions in education. He sees human agency as a key component of effective learning and effective curriculum delivery. For example, people are already able to design their own learning path using the tools on iPads. Skills, competencies and content are equally important and learners will increasingly be able to make their own pathways through curriculum and assessment; in ways that suit their requirements. ‘Stackable credentialing’, where students get recognition that is cumulative and clearly shows what they understand and can do will also be a key feature of future learning ecosystems (CORE Ten Trend: micro-credentialing). There is a changing role of the teacher (also a CORE Ten Trend), where teachers are coaches and mentors, not just holders and distributors of knowledge; as has been the case in the past.  


Te Akau ki PapamoaAn example of culturally responsive educational design can be seen here in Aotearoa. Te Akau ki Papamoa Primary School and principal Bruce Jepsen use 1:1 ipads to break down barriers to access and to address equity issues.  They utilise the native apps on iPads to enable students to manage, share and celebrate their learning over time and in culturally appropriate ways, making strong connections between home and school. 


Papamoa has been accessing quality professional learning as a key component of their journey. They are monitoring and constantly evaluating the impact of the PLD and outcomes of their student programmes in an ongoing way. We also heard about the many different accessibility opportunities, which are part of all iPads at Te Akau ki Papamoa. These are available to all students who are using the devices, not just those who may have an identified special needs issue. 


Having a focus on process and using an inquiry approach are key components of effective pedagogy and practice. Here there is an understanding that “creativity is a process not an event”. Many of the examples he shared were focused on creating an outcome that is an app. Is an app the solution to everything, to all the world's problems? We were left to wonder!


The challenge Liechti presented at the end was, How are we as educators creating the future?


Overall this was an interesting talk, showcasing Apple devices specifically as a tool to support collaboration and human engagement in our education system - specifically classroom and school programmes.  


Dominic Liechti 3


For more reflections on Dominic's keynote see Dominic Liechti Keynote and Google doc in edSpace.


Blog by Greg Carroll, images Derek Wenmoth (Twitter), Hohepa Isaac-Sharland, Te Akau ki Papamoa Facebook
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CORE Education

CORE is a world-class, professional learning and development organisation, providing a diverse range of innovative, inspiring, and creative solutions to support educators and learners.
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