I’m just coming down to earth (although not as fast as Baumgartner😉 after a week of frenetic networking, workshopping, breaking out and lapping up that is the annual ULearn conference. Although I should declare a vested interest in saying positive things about the event (being a CORE employee an’ all), there were a few aspects that have really stuck with me, as the dust has settled.
Choosing your own pathway
As I interviewed delegates, on behalf of the media team, about what they were taking away from the event during the week, they frequently mentioned the way they were using the conference strategically, to inform school planning, a personal inquiry or staff PD. No sign of holidaying teachers out for perks on a bit of a jolly jaunt to the Big Smoke – there was serious, deliberate planning around which staff member would attend which breakout. An excellent example of how this seemingly fluid, informal, ‘one-off’ learning can directly inform on-going professional learning that is tailored to local needs. An inspiring way to grab learning that is personalised to you and your school.
Design for inclusion
It may not have been mentioned deliberately by each keynote, but it was the unspoken message that filtered through the conference – that those students who seem the hardest to reach need freshly, creatively designed learning experiences, not sympathy, and certainly not deficit expectations around what they might be capable of achieving. Whether it was the story of Khoa Do, an immigrant from Vietnam, to Kevin Honeycutt’s story of life ‘on the inside’, there was a loud message that shouldn’t go unheard: we hold the keys to the door that will open learning for them. It’s up to us to keep trying the locks.
Power-up your PLN
Networking. Schmoozing. Connecting. It sounds like a corporate junket. But there is no denying that this was one of the most valuable parts of the conference. For those of us who have many conversations online, the chance to eyeball our colleagues from Twitter and the VLN is invaluable.
As is the chance to swap stories, share ideas, forge relationships for the future between staff, school, clusters, that can be leveraged once we are back in school…we are as strong as our networks, and if the conference is anything to go by, our profession is in fine heart, despite media stories to the contrary. You only had to listen to the hubbub in the corridors or skim the #ulearn12 Twitterfeed to get a sense of the connections going on.
Can’t wait for the next conference...ICOT13
And if you are interested in these ideas, you might also be keen on access to the slideshows that I used for my sessions. Happy to chat about any of them, with you or your school:
- Effective e-Learning: How to get started integrating technology effectively with teaching and learning.
- Spotlight: Punch above your weight: Making the most of virtual professional learning
[Image source: DK]
****UPDATE: This blog was adapted for an article in the Education Gazette, 28 Jan., 2013, Vol. 92, No., 1.