The first STEM 2020 On Demand Conference opened with a bang! After more than six months of carefully curating an outstanding international speakers list with the likes of Sir Ken Robinson, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, Jordan Nguyen and Felicity Furey, organiser Dr Scott Sleap made the disappointing decision to close the lid on the STEM 2020 Conference that was scheduled to take place at venues in the Hunter Valley, Port Macquarie, Bathurst and Wagga Wagga earlier this year.
“The decision to cancel this year’s event didn’t sit right with me” Scott recalls.
“We couldn’t go ahead with a 1000-plus attendance event – it just couldn’t happen. Still, I didn’t want to let all that effort, the experts taking part, the resources being shared to enrich STEM learning for thousands of kids across the country go to waste.”
Instead, Scott gave the organising team the, at the time unimaginable, task of moving the conference to an online, on-demand format. Within a short period of time, the STEM 2020 Conference On Demand series launched on April 27 2020.
“The STEM 2020 Online and On Demand platform flipped our expectations from feeling deflated to absolutely energised. Since registrations opened, more than 4,500 registrants have signed up and our speakers’ presentations have been downloaded and viewed over 4,000 times in the first week!” he said.
“There is no way we could have reached that many using the normal conference approach,” adding that the on-demand delivery has ongoing benefits for teachers and users of the materials.
“We’ve been given a unique opportunity to provide durable content. Using app-based and online resources teachers across Australia can communicate with our conferencing app and stream content from our website when it suits their curriculum planning and stage of student learning.”
“What has come out of this event is probably a better outcome for teachers in our rural, regional and remote areas. They are generally the ones who miss out on conference attendance due to a range of limiting factors such as budgets, time away from teaching, lack of casual teachers and physical distances to travel, more so now than ever.”
“Through online delivery, we’ve been able to greatly increase participation, and our data shows that a broader mix of registrants are taking part from all over the country.”
So successful was the first week of the virtual conference that the NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, The Hon. Sarah Mitchell, MLC, was inspired by the potential this resource had for educators in the post-COVID learning environment.
She said that the on-demand format has enabled more STEM-focused teachers to take part and benefit from the expert speakers.
“STEM subjects are vital for our students and their future, and our STEM teachers are among the most energetic and innovative. I hope everyone continues to use the online professional learning materials [available to them through the on-demand platform] to support their students as we navigate the challenging conditions of this pandemic.”
Live Q and A session
Join Professor Lisa-Harvey-Smith, Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen, Suzy Urbaniak, Felicity Furey and Dr Scott Sleap on Tuesday 12 May from 5:00pm – 6:00pm (AEST) in a LIVE Q&A panel session exploring the opportunities and challenges of increasing the participation of girls in STEM. Log in here
Want to get involved? Ask your own questions for the panelists to answer during the session! We’ll be taking your questions on Twitter. All you need to do is:
- Come up with your question for the panelists.
- Tweet the question via Twitter
- Include an indication of which panelist the question is for, or if it is for all panelists
- Include the event hashtag #STEM2020OnDemand so we can be notified of your question
Questions will be accepted until 5pm on Monday 11 May, 2020. Get Tweeting and join a lively discussion on an important issue that we increasingly face in the STEM Education field!
STEM 2020 On Demand: Strategies for a Rapidly Changing World is an innovative online and on demand event demonstrating the power of technology during these challenging times. It is an initiative of the NSW Department of Education through its Learning and Teaching Directorate. Register for the STEM 2020 On Demand Conference and access content by visiting https://stem2020.com.au/