Skip to main content

Keynote Speakers

Please click on their images for more information.

Professor Elaine Munthe
4th Dr Ruth Wong Professor in Teacher Education
Professor And Director of The Knowledge
Center for Education (KSU),
University of Stavanger, Norway
Professor Kenneth Poon
Lien Foundation Chair Professor in Education
(Psychology and Human Development)
Dean, Education Research, Office of Education Research
Centre Director, Centre for Research in Child Development,
National Institute of Education,
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Professor William Penuel
Distinguished Professor of Learning Science and Human Development, School of Education and Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Colorado Boulder, United States
Professor Adam Lefstein
Morton L. Mandel Director,
Seymour Fox School of Education,
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Professor Mutlu Cukurova
Professor of Learning and Artificial Intelligence, University College London, England

Speaker Profile

Professor Adam Lefstein

Morton L. Mandel Director,
Seymour Fox School of Education,
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Adam Lefstein is the Morton L. Mandel Director of the Seymour Fox School of Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research and teaching focus on pedagogy, classroom interaction, teacher learning and educational change. He is particularly interested in the intersection between research and professional practice, and how to conduct research that is meaningful, rigorous and helpful for educators. Between 2010-2022 he was a faculty member in the Department of Education at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. There he established the Center for the Study of Pedagogy - Research-Practice Partnerships, an interdisciplinary research center dedicated to collaborating with practitioners and policy-makers to design and conduct research and development projects that expand and strengthen Israeli educators' professional knowledge infrastructures. His research includes a study of Israeli culture and primary pedagogy, an investigation of video-based dialogic debrief conversations, a design-based implementation study of teacher leadership and professional discourse, an experimental study of academically productive talk in primary language classrooms, an ethnographic investigation of language, class and classroom participation, and an ethnographic study of studio pedagogy in an arts and design academy. He was elected as a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 2023.

Keynote Title

Beyond teacher professional development: How can we support teacher learning in the wild?

Keynote Abstract

Despite widespread criticism, the dominant model for teacher professional learning, both in practice and research, continues to be the professional development workshop. Such workshops are typically facilitated by experts from outside the school, to address administrators’ or reformers’ concerns rather than those of the participating teachers. This model persists for many reasons, related to teachers’ work conditions, professional needs, institutional structures, and logistical constraints. Yet our efforts in this regard are akin to those of the proverbial drunkard looking for his keys under a streetlamp rather than where he lost them. Although researcher-led CPD activities are easily illuminated and studied, the available evidence for their effectiveness is not encouraging. In this talk, I call for turning our attention elsewhere: to the social, conceptual and institutional resources that enable and constrain teaching practice and to the conversations embedded in teachers’ day-to-day work, through which they learn from one another what it means to be a teacher and how to perform their duties. I offer a conceptual framework for thinking about the ecologies of teacher learning and in particular “pedagogically productive” teacher talk. Finally, I highlight central challenges involved in designing for, promoting and investigating teacher learning in the wild.

Speaker Profile

Professor Elaine Munthe

4th Dr Ruth Wong Professor in Teacher Education
Professor And Director of The Knowledge
Center for Education (KSU),
University of Stavanger, Norway

Elaine Munthe is a Professor of Education and Director of the Knowledge Center for Education at the University of Stavanger (Norway). She was first educated as a teacher and taught for some years at International Schools and in Norway, before continuing her studies and receiving a PhD in Education from the University of Oslo. Her research career started in the mid-80s as a scientific assistant on a re-assessment of bullying in schools in Norway, and since then she has consistently been concerned with classroom studies, studies of teachers’ work and professional learning, and questions concerning how we qualify teachers. She has been Department Chair of a Department of teacher education, Dean of a faculty of Arts and Education, and currently Director of a research center established and funded by the Ministry of Education and Research where the main emphasis is on conducting systematic reviews of education and making these accessible for the education sector.

Keynote Title

Bridge over troubled waters; Thoughtful engagement with research in education

Keynote Abstract

The number of researchers in education is growing, and the amount of funding for educational research is also increasing. The amount of research results being published every year is staggering - and on the rise. This is positive because it shows how seriously we take education and educational knowledge. It shows that systematic investigations – either theoretically or empirically – are prioritized. Policy makers, funders, researchers, and practitioners are interested in new knowledge. Navigating educational research is becoming increasingly difficult. It requires a certain degree of research literacy just to find and understand relevant research. Also, we still know little about how research is used in educational settings. In this keynote presentation, I will address questions such as: How can research use be understood? What is research literacy? What do we know about research use in schools? How can we promote thoughtful engagement with research in schools?

Speaker Profile

Professor Kenneth Poon

Lien Foundation Chair Professor in Education
(Psychology and Human Development),
Dean, Education Research, Office of Education Research,
Centre Director, Centre for Research in Child Development,
National Institute of Education,
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Kenneth is Lien Foundation Chair Professor of Education (Psychology and Human Development) at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University. He is also Dean, Education Research, as well as Centre Director of the Centre for Research in Child Development. Trained as a clinical psychologist and as an early interventionist, he has spent the past 20 years of experience working with children and persons with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Kenneth is leading/has led, as principal investigator, research projects with a combined quantum of over SGD$7 million. His research has focused on the development of children (especially children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and children from low income families) examining how the home and school environments impact development. He is Lead Principal Investigator of the ongoing Singapore Longitudinal Cohort Study (SG-LCS) and was Principal Invesitgator of the completed Transition and Adjustment of Children with Special Educational Needs (Tran-SEN).

As Singapore is a context which until recently, has not conducted much research with assessment tools, he has developed, adapted, and normed instruments which may be used for future studies such as the Singapore Ability Scales (SAS), Singapore's first commercially available test of intellectual abilities. Finally, a growing area of research is in the examination of how the outcomes of students with neurodevelopmental disabilities can be optimised in inclusive school environments.

Keynote Title

DREAMS, a Longitudinal Study of Adolescents in Secondary Schools: Insights from Students in Secondary One

Keynote Abstract

Marked by rapid physical and psychological changes in the young person, adolescence has been identified as a second sensitive stage in development. Also a phase characterised by the development of self identity and the emergence of mental health conditions, this sensitive phase of development offers both opportunities and vulnerabilities. With an increase in time spent in school and with greater receptibility to peer influence, adolescence is an important stage where interventions within the school environment can make an impact.

DREAMS is a longitudinal study of 7,000 adolescents as they progress through the four to five years of secondary school. It is designed with the aim of understanding the contributions of the school, social, and family environment upon school and career aspirations, self identify and agency, social and relational contexts, and wellbeing and lifestyle.

This presentation reports the preliminary findings from the first year of study as the participants begin their secondary education and explores factors that contribute to differences in outcome variables.

Speaker Profile

Professor Michelle Ellefson

Professor of Cognitive Science, The Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, England 
Fellow, Undergraduate Tutor and Director of Studies in Education for Gonville and Caius College

Michelle Ellefson convenes the INSTRUCT Research Group (Implementing New Student Thinking Resources Using Cognitive Theory). Michelle has scientific interests in cognition, neuroscience, child development, and education, integrating them into a multi-disciplinary research programme aimed at improving math and science education. Using an iterative process, she pairs laboratory based research with classroom learning and curriculum development in order to better understand mechanisms responsible for cognitive development and to leverage that understanding to improve educational practice. Her current research projects focus on the role of executive functions in school achievement and how children's reasoning about causes and effects impacts how they think about scientific phenomena. In addition, she is applying specific cognitive principles to classroom learning, including simplicity and desirable difficulties. Initially trained in developmental cognitive neuroscience, her interests in improving cognitive outcomes for all children have inspired her to reach beyond this foundational training to develop her integrative, multi-disciplinary approach that informs both school practice and theoretical accounts of cognitive development.

Speaker Profile

Professor Mutlu Cukurova

Professor of Learning and Artificial Intelligence, University College London, England

Mutlu Cukurova is a Professor of Learning and Artificial Intelligence at University College London. Mutlu investigates the potential of analytics and AI to understand and support human learning with a particular interest in “learning how to learn” and solving complex problems collaboratively. His work aims to address the pressing socio-educational challenge of preparing people for a future with AI systems that will require a great deal more than the routine cognitive skills currently prized by many education systems. Mutlu is the Director of the UCLAT team and collaborates with UNESCO's Unit for Technology and AI in Education as an external expert. His work in organizing leading conferences in the field, including his role as the programme co-chair at the International Conference of AI in Education in 2020, showcases his commitment to sharing and evolving knowledge within this area. Currently serving as the editor of the British Journal of Educational Technology and an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, Mutlu continues to drive forward the discourse on AI and learning in academia, practice, and policy-making spheres.

Keynote Title

AI in Education: Beyond the Hype to Real-world Adoption

Keynote Abstract

While the shiny allure of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been making headlines for a while, the real questions in Education are about how these technologies fit into our classrooms and how teachers and learners feel about them. Do you remember the excitement when the first computers entered our schools? The promise was revolutionary: kids would learn faster, better, and more individually. But fast forward, and we realize it’s not just about the computer on the desk; it’s about humans and how we use it. The same goes for AI. In this keynote, we will journey through the intersecting realms of Learning Sciences and AI, taking a deep dive into three distinct conceptualisations of AI's role in our educational landscape. By drawing upon robust research evidence, I will unpack the benefits and limitations of each framework, painting a nuanced picture of how AI can be harnessed, grounded in our deep understanding of human learning processes. Through examples of our recent work, I will emphasize the role of AI in augmenting human capabilities rather than replacing them, thereby accentuating the humanistic values inherent to learning and education. The journey of integrating AI in schools is more than a tech challenge; it’s a human one. And as we make strides, the focus should be on making the transition smoother and more beneficial for our teachers and learners. The keynote aspires to foster a rich dialogue about the confluence of AI and Human Learning, not merely offering definite answers but stimulating thoughtful questions about the future of AI, analytics, and education.

Speaker Profile

Professor William Penuel

Distinguished Professor of Learning Science and Human Development, School of Education and Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Colorado Boulder, United States

William (Bill) Penuel is a Distinguished Professor of Learning Sciences and Human Development in the School of Education and Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. He designs and studies curriculum materials, assessments, and professional learning experiences for teachers in science. He works in partnership with school districts and state departments of education, and the research he conducts is in support of educational equity in three dimensions: (1) equitable implementation of new science standards; (2) creating inclusive classroom cultures that attend to students’ affective experiences and where all students have authority for constructing knowledge together; and (3) connecting teaching to the interests, experiences, and identities of learners. His research employs a wide range of qualitative and quantitative research methods, including an approach he developed with his colleagues called design-based implementation research (http://learndbir.org).

Keynote Title

Reimagining Teaching and Learning in Schools with Research-Practice Partnerships

Keynote Abstract

Reimagining classrooms and schools as sites of ambitious and equitable teaching and learning is a centerpiece of reforms today across the globe. Achieving those dreams, though, requires sustained, collaborative efforts among researchers, policymakers, educators, and communities to achieve. Nor can individual innovations for classrooms get us there: changes to systems are necessary. Research-practice partnerships (RPPs) are a collaborative research strategy for transforming teaching and learning at the level of large school systems. RPPs are intentionally organized to connect diverse forms of expertise and shift power relations in the research endeavor to ensure that all partners have a say in work they do together. This talk will define the key features of equity oriented RPPs and how such RPPs vary in their goals, approaches to research and composition, presenting examples drawn from across the globe. In addition, the talk will describe multiple projects of an RPP called the inquiryHub research-practice partnership, to develop and study curricular innovations in a large urban school district, many of which have spread to other systems across the U.S. These include an effort to develop free secondary science materials aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and a multi-institutional project that is investigating the potential of an Artificial Intelligence partner to support more effective and equitable small group collaborative learning in STEM. The talk will conclude with a call to action for organizing RPPs toward the goal of reimagining classrooms and schools toward more just and sustainable futures.