Building Learning Ecosystems

23rd Jun 2022 • Enrichment

A debrief by Tanya Grobbelaar


EIW attended the 20th annual LEA conference hosted in the Adelaide Convention Centre in June.

The ‘Building Learning Ecosystems’ theme with the idea that effective learning occurs within a healthy and balanced ecosystem resonated through keynote speakers, workshops and site tours.

The conference was opened with a Welcome to Country smoke ceremony and welcome by LEA’s chair, Marino Rossi.

Helen Connolly, South Australia’s first Commissioner for Children and Young People, delivered a powerful keynote address educating on how children and young people view and experience adults and what issues they deal with. Principles to engage children and young people as contributors and ways to facilitate engagement sessions with them proved very insightful. Dr Kristin Alford from the University of South Australia and director of MOD (Australia’s leading Future Focused Museum showcasing research and innovation to young adults) then delivered a very interesting speech on thinking about the future. She talked about the 200-Year Present and how decisions should be made from a place of values. She proposed that visions of the future should be ‘far out’ and preposterous! Workshop sessions was followed by site tours and EIW visited the Adelaide Botanic High School. This coeducational public secondary school in the NE corner of the city is a vertical learning environment with a high degree of visual and physical connectivity around an ‘active’ atrium, offering opportunities for collaboration and connection. The jam-packed day concluded with a Welcome reception at the Adelaide Oval with generous amounts of food and drink.

EIW’s Philip Idle was one of four members being presented with Life Membership Awards for their valuable contributions to the LEA on the second day. Congratulations Phil!

Dr Fred Heidt from Youth Inc. next provided insightful information on the alternative learning provided by Youth Inc. to young people aged 17-24 and we had the opportunity to hear from students present in the audience. Graham Clark, principal of Christies Beach High School, captured the audience with a panel session involving two students and the assistant principal. Discussions on the impacts of the learning environment on students and on creating effective learning ecosystems was had. Lunch with trade exhibitors was followed by site tours. EIW visited the Adelaide Health & Medical Science building and had the opportunity to meet a $500K breathing dummy used to educate Australia’s future anesthesiologists! Next up was a visit to the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute. The building earned a gold rating for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design due to its response to its environment. The impressive triangular façade is designed to deal with sunlight, heat load, glare and wind deflections from different angles and creates a comfortable working environment inside with views to the outside and natural daylight. The Conference dinner and LEA Awards evening was a huge success with our highly entertaining master of ceremonies and ample servings of food and drink!

EIW’s last day at the conference included an engaging keynote by Professor Pascale Quester, Vice-Chancellor and President of the Swinburne University of Technology. Professor Quester shared, in her slight French accent, Swinburne’s learning journey to be a world-class university creating an ecosystem where students are at the centre of everything at Swinburne. Morning tea with trade exhibitors was followed by an interview with Julia Gillard, 27th Prime Minister of Australia. EIW enjoyed the conference and take away enriching knowledge and plenty to share with the team.