ULearn | You LEARN

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. Handwritten notes from the conferenceNo 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.tweet screen shot 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.

tweet screen shot 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:

[Image source: DK]

****UPDATE: This blog was adapted for an article in the Education Gazette, 28 Jan., 2013, Vol. 92, No., 1.

4 Comments

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  1. I have so enjoyed reading this post Karen. We sat at our staff meeting today reflecting on our uLearn experience. Our whole staff attended and we have really connected through such an inspiring experience. Our ‘what’s on top’ today was exciting and just the tip from our shared docs that have developed through the varying quality breakout sessions. I really recommend schools leaders investing in a wide reading approach to PD.

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    • karenmelhuishspencer October 19, 2012 — 3:48 pm

      Thanks, Steph – and really pleased to hear that you and your staff got so much out of it. That ‘wide reading’ approach, being connected to a national/global PLN is vital. Conferences like ULearn grounds us in our network and puts us in a great positon to leverage those connections online until we all get to eyeball each other again. Awesome to hear how you and your staff and made the most of the shared learning too. Have a great term 4 putting it all into action #nopressure;-)

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  2. “You Learn”… clever – I see what you did there 😉

    Was a rocking good show and always fun to be involved – highlight for me (like all the others) is literally to press the palms and hug the folks who matter… those who fish ideas out of the river of discussion, expand and contextualise whilst giggling all the way at the myriad of opportunities available…

    Onwards!

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