26 October 2022

Digital Child x ACMI Seminar: Australian EdTech for Better Digital Childhoods

This event is part of the Digital Child’s 2022 Children’s Week celebrations.

Please note that this event is being held in Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT).

The Centre for the Digital Child brings stakeholders together from all sectors of society to help create healthy, educated and connected futures for all Australian Children.

This seminar, held during Australia’s National Children’s Week 2022, brings EdTech developers and businesses into our conversation. Childhood is now digital by default. Families and children are using digital devices and are often online at play, in the home, in early years centres, communicating with family members, learning, shopping, getting advice, monitoring growth and interacting with welfare services. All of these interactions use apps and technologies developed here in Australia and elsewhere. Our conversations will explore:

  • Markets and opportunities for edtech and edutainment for an often-neglected age group (0-8 years old)
  • Understanding family use of digital technologies
  • The uses and purposes of EdTech in early years settings
  • Balancing learning, play and fun in the home
  • Technological innovation and opportunities
  • Ethical uses of digital technology

The global COVID-19 pandemic has noticeably accelerated the penetration and influence of educational technologies in all educational settings. In the early childhood education and care sector, service providers have increasingly partnered with edtech providers to integrate technological solutions in learning documentation, family communication, organisation and staff management, program planning, and so on. Others have pondered over how. At home, parents and caregivers are faced with a gigantic pool of ‘consumer edtech’ products, rendering informed decision-making difficult.

Conversation frequently questions how ‘educational’ are educational apps? What pedagogical approaches are embedded in platforms? How is the quality of digital play and learning assured? How do we know if our data are not being misused? At the same time, developers and company owners want to know how their products can meet the educational needs of early childhood educators, parents and most importantly, children, in different settings.

In this event, we hope you will join us to address these questions and bring together stakeholders for an open conversation and informal networking.

The seminar will run from 5.00pm – 6.30pm, with refreshments served afterwards from 6.30pm – 7.30pm for attendees interested in networking. For those unable to attend in-person, a Zoom option will be available.

Event Convener

Dr Xinyu (Andy) Zhao, Research Fellow, Deakin University

Panel Chair

Professor Julian Sefton-Green is Professor of New Media Education at Deakin University and a Chief Investigator at the Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child. He has worked in many countries researching young people and family use of digital technology in everyday life. His research is mainly ethnographic, focussing on socially marginalised communities, social inequality and the powerful ways that people demonstrate ingenuity, creativity and resistance often when education systems are stacked against them. Julian is currently also co-leading a study with the University of Utrecht on the reimagining of young people’s understanding of learning; and is also co-directing a study of long-term impacts of out-of-school arts learning on life chances funded by the Wallace Foundation. Julian is extensively published – he has authored, co-authored and edited 18 books, including a recent chapter on how children’s play and learning have evolved in the digital age. Julian is currently a visiting Professor at the Playful Learning Centre, University of Helsinki (Finland).


Professor Susan Edwards is Director of the Early Childhood Futures research program in the Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education, Australian Catholic University. She is an expert in digital play and cyber-safety education in the early years and as an Associate Investigator at the Centre of Excellence, Susan focuses on the role and use of digital play in early childhood education settings.

Susan is currently leading an ARC Linkage Scheme project to develop an online tool that will enable families and educators to share best practices in digital technology use with, by and for young children. As Co-Chair of the Early Childhood Australia (ECA) Digital Policy Group, she helped lead publication of the ECA Statement on Young Children and Digital Technologies.


Annabel Astbury is Head of Digital Education at the ABC. She leads an innovative and dedicated team to create, curate and deliver media content for use in the classroom and at home. An advocate for media literacy, Annabel was the Executive producer on ABC Education’s media literacy content and strategy. She is currently Chair of the Australian Media Literacy Alliance.

Dr Annie McAuley is the CEO and Founder of TalkiPlay. Annie has mastered the capacity to imagine the impossible and make it a reality. A traumatic brain injury at 18 forced her to reimagine a different future. Annie pushed through her changed circumstances to study, complete a PhD, marry and have two children before embarking on a mission to help her daughter Grace communicate. She taught herself to code to create a device that would bring inanimate objects to “life” to spark Grace’s interest in speech and language. In doing so she built TalkiPlay, which came to life as a startup. The speech and language program, which encourages learning through play and away from screens, has received many accolades and is on track to help more preschool children make the most of their world. Annie featured in the Australian’s magazine THE LIST of the top 100 innovators in 2022.

Kevin Rodrigo is a Senior Account Manager in Education Technology at Google. Kevin brings insights and knowledge about teaching and learning after working in the technology sector for over twenty years, including in education-focused roles at Microsoft, HP, Apple and now Google. Kevin uses his passion and energy about leveraging technology to enable individuals to have greater impact and organisations to make a bigger difference in a digitally connected world. Kevin has experience in customer success, as well as sales and partnering with customers in the commercial, education and public sector. He has a unique breadth of skills and knowledge in team management, which have been acquired from working in complex technological, enterprise and commercial environments.

Luke Seacombe is the Head of Engagement at EduGrowth, Australia’s industry hub for education innovation. Luke has six years’ experience working in international education, with expertise across community and stakeholder engagement and the development and rollout of international programs. Outside of international education, Luke has worked in the Government, Not-For-Profit and Private sectors helping to develop engaging and immersive programs.

Mark Woodland is the Founder and CIO of Xplor, a globally-recognised company and top education startup innovating software that’s sole purpose is to make education better. Mark began his career serving four years in the Royal Australian Artillery Corps, before being to the Australian Psychology Corps where he worked with soldiers returning from deployment and spent the rest of his time training new recruits. In 2010 Mark’s mother bought a childcare centre to support children on their educational journey and Mark left the Australian Army to support his mother in her new business. Frustrated by the outdated systems and not being able to afford an app developer, Mark taught himself to code and over the next few years, Mark developed Xplor. In 2016 Xplor caught the attention of not only the education community but the world at large who had become disenchanted by the childcare industry and lack of support to families – and Xplor was officially born. The company now has over 2500 employees in five different countries, and is used by hundreds of thousands of people around the globe.

Please note that we can provide a Certificate of Attendance for any attendee who would like this seminar to count towards their professional development. You can note this in your registration or contact us after the event.