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Report on talk to Australian Computers in Education Conference (ACEC'96)

12 April, 1996 by ACS President


Tom Worthington This is to report on my talk to Australian Computers in Education Conference, 9 - 12 April, 1996 (ACEC'96) at the National Convention Centre in Canberra. I was asked to introduce Sandra Wills, as an ACS sponsored keynote speaker for the conference. Also I volunteered to give a short impromptu talk to close the conference. Along the way I attended a board meeting of ACCE, discussed some of the arrangements for Teleteaching'96 at IFIP96 and was photographed with two stuffed toys.

The Conference

The ACEC is held each year in a different state. The ACS is one of the sponsors for the event. ACCE is an Australian body whose members are the State Computer Education Groups and the Australian Computer Society (ACS). This year it was hosted by the Computer Education Group of the Australian Capital Territory. The theme of the conference was Get with It!, to involve teachers and other educators in information Technology in primary, secondary and tertiary education. There were about 450 delegates and an excellent exhibitor display.

The conference venue is just down the road from my office at Defence, so I visited on the day before I was to talk, just to see what it was all about. I was handed a very full satchel of conference papers (also available on disk and on the Web). Then I gatecrashed the board meeting of the ACCE. This was handy as they were discussing several ACS related matters:

Then I had a quick look at the exhibition and trade show. This was a bit different to the ones I am used to, because of its education orientation. One item I found interesting was Apple's video conferencing hardware and software.


On Friday morning I introduced Sandra Wills, as an ACS sponsored keynote speaker. This was the first bit of the conference I had attended and found it remarkable. Sandra talked about how to make multimedia interesting. Showing examples of interactive conference gave an impassioned plea for multimedia to be more than just text with a few photos tacked on.

To close the conference I gave a short impromptu talk, accompanied by web pages. In this I pointed out that the themes of the conference were applicable beyond education. In Government, industry and the community we are grappling with the issues of how to make multimedia material understandable and interesting. It was a shame that many people who would have benefited from the conference papers wouldn't think to attend because it was about "education". I suggested we should try and avoid this with IFIP'96, where the Teleteaching conference will be at the same venue as Advanced IT Tools and Mobile Communications. Delegates to these conferences can take part in Teleteaching 96, but might not think to do so.

I asked the delegates to help the rest of us, with making this technology more accessible to our clients and the whole community. This is a matter of great economic as well as cultural importance. To illustrate this I displayed the call for papers for SEARCC'96 on the conference theme of "IT for Better Quality of Life". The Australian IT industry has the opportunity to market products and services to our region. What will largely differentiate our products is not their technical excellence, but how culturally sensitive we are in making and selling them.


The visit to the conference was inspiring in several ways:

Tom Worthington MACS
President of the Australian Computer Society
14 April 1996

Tom Worthington with Moomi and Koala Chris ps: I almost forgot to explain the two stuffed toys I was photographed with. These are Moomi the Moomintroll from Finland and Koala Chris from Bundamba, Australia, cultural ambassadors who travel around the world visiting schools and encouraging the students to find out about the people of other places. They will be back for Virtual School Visits at Teleteaching96. The Teleteaching96 committee would like to hear from anyone who would like to sponsor a few thousand stuffed toys to travel the world before September.

See also:

About the ACS

The Australian Computer Society is the professional association in Australia for those in the computing and information technology fields. It was established in 1966. The Society has over 16,000 members and on a per capita basis is one of the largest computer societies in the world.

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