When a conference is more than it seems….

On Wednesday and Thursday of the last week of the holidays I attended the ACEC2010 conference in Melbourne.  I just want to state this early, that is was an OK tech conference.

On the other hand it was a brilliant teaching and learning conference! (yes it was a brilliant tech conference too – but I was trying to make a point!)

Yep, ACEC2010 was probably seen by most from the outside as a ‘techie’ conference to go to which may have undersold it’s interest in teachers attending (there were lots there from all over Australia and Internatiaonlly too I should say), but the general educator may have been mistaken into thinking you had to ‘be into ICT’ to get anything out if it.

Wrong, very wrong.

For me, my head is still spinning as I get my thoughts around some of the things I saw and the conversations I had with other participants.  For me the conference was about seeing educators presenting workshops which were basically “I teach x, these are the things I use (insert ICT tools here) and this is what I let me kids do and (x) is what they come up with’.

For me, the whole underlying theme was just that – here is what the students can do when we give them opportunities.  From the fantastic keynote presenters I saw, down to the sessions I was in, the ‘vibe’ was simple – as teachers we need to step back, guide the students about the learning and let them go for it.  It’s not new, we’ve been talking about the role ICT allows for students to become more engaged in their learning, have greater success, cater for all learning styles, explore learning they would not normally be able to etc, etc, but we still by and large don’t put it into action.

The positive thing for me was to actually see and converse with teachers who are putting it into action and seeing the amazing results their students are having as a consequence.  The challenge is now how to we make this the norm for our classrooms, not the exception or the innovation that we keep talking about.

Another thing the conference showed me was the value of a PLN (professional/personal learning network).  You see having a group of people who you can converse with about education, outside of your own sphere, is an amazingly powerful thing.  For starters, ACEC2010 allowed me to actually meet some of them for the first time, rather than via their blogs, podcasts or Twitter.

Actually speaking of Twitter, it really showed it’s full potential across the conference.  Whilst being in my sessions, I was able to access the links, comments and views of other sessions via the posting of other attendees.  So I actually feel that I attended more than the physical sessions I was in and have even more resources/links/ideas etc than was ‘physically’ possible to get.

So, whilst I can’t stop talking about the positives, what about the negatives.  Well for me there was only 1.

That was that all the teachers, principals, curriculum coordinators, CEO colleagues etc that I work with, weren’t there to experience it as well, because I’m sure it would have had a profound impact on their teaching and learning when they got back into their schools.

Well, there is always next time. ACEC2012 will be in Perth.  Hope to see you all there.