Principal's Comment

Posted Thursday May 30, 2024

Kia ora e te whānau

This week, I was privileged to attend the Secondary Principals' Association Conference in Queenstown. This was a great opportunity to learn about what other schools in New Zealand are focusing on. A big theme for us all was around AI (Artificial Intelligence) and what we are going to do about it in our schools. The blaringly loud message was that if we wait and do nothing or ignore it, big technology companies will take over and destroy our systems and it is the schools who are using it for deep learning, new time saving applications, and assessing the key competencies that are now leading the way in education. Michael Fullan (Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto) has said that for education to be truly transformed in our schools, all 8 interacting factors need to be present:

- Purpose/Meaning
- Belonging
- Time
- Autonomy
- Good Leaders
- Teachers & Students Together
- Community Linkage
- Artificial Intelligence

The keynote speaker to have the greatest impression on me was our very own Dunedin based, Sir Ian Taylor.    

Image by: SPC

Sir Ian is an innovator who has always embraced technology, fully seeing the potential for it to be either disastrous or great and running head first into the danger anyway, and this is why he is so successful. Research shows us that 80% of our students no longer know what the purpose of education is, and the growth of AI has contributed to this because they are already using it for what it can do to help them get ahead in life. If you can ask a chat bot for the answers why ask a teacher?

Sir Ian is notable for many achievements nationally and internationally and include:

Founder of Animation Research Ltd (ARL) and Virtual Eye Technology :

· Sir Ian Taylor founded ARL in 1989, a pioneering company in computer graphics and animation. ARL is renowned for its work in television sports graphics, including innovative real-time graphics for cricket, golf, and other sports. Virtual Eye Technology provides viewers with detailed, real-time visualizations of the game. ARL's Virtual Eye technology has been used by major broadcasters such as ESPN, Sky Sports, and Channel Nine.

America’s Cup Contributions:

· ARL has been instrumental in the coverage of the America’s Cup yacht races. Their real-time 3D graphics have provided unprecedented insights into the races, making them more accessible and exciting for the global audience.

Recognition and Awards:

· Sir Ian Taylor has received numerous awards for his contributions to technology and innovation, including the New Zealand Innovator of the Year Award and the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in 2012.

Business Leadership:

· Sir Ian Taylor has been a prominent figure in the New Zealand business community, serving on various boards and contributing to the development of the tech industry in the country. His leadership has inspired many in the tech and business sectors.

Educational Initiatives:

· Sir Ian is passionate about education and has been involved in several initiatives to promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education in New Zealand. He has been a vocal advocate for integrating technology into education to prepare students for the future.

Promotion of Maori Culture:

· As a proud advocate of his Maori heritage, Sir Ian has worked to incorporate and promote Maori culture and perspectives within his business ventures and through his public speaking engagements.

Documentary Production:

· Before founding ARL, Sir Ian was involved in the production of television documentaries, contributing to New Zealand's media landscape with insightful and culturally significant content.

"Technology has helped me; it's not the other way round. I have been really fortunate to have been surrounded by a group of Kiwis who have understood the role technology can play and who have had the skills, the world-class skills, to realise the potential of it all.” (Sir Ian Taylor).

Sir Ian continues to be brave in his approach to technology, particularly AI and can see it for its potential, showing us how in the very near future students will be able to interview an AI version of Albert Einstein and other key historical figures and ask them questions in real time. The scale and speed of AI is moving all the time and in his words, he says teachers need to embrace it rather than be scared of it.

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