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.

7 thoughts on “When a conference is more than it seems….

  1. After reading Glenn’s piece I so wish i had gone too. I’m sure teachers are enthusiastic about teaching and learning but I’m wondering if fear of technology holds us back. It’s important in teaching and learning to take risk even if it means failure otherwise we will never ever improve our craft. Technology is a part of our lives and more so for our children, we need to engage them with all that is available and what they find easy to use. if we don’t get on board we are inhibiting their learning and will fail ourselves in teaching and learning, in these very exciting times.

  2. Thanks for your comments Kitty. I think you’re right about the ‘fear’ factor but the point about teaching and learning is right, teaching and learning now needs to incorporate the use of ICT. I like your mention of failure and risk, because fundamentally that’s what needs to happen for learning to occur.

  3. I have to agree that seeing other “ordinary” teachers doing amazing things with techonology was really inspiring – I have come back with so many ideas, and I keep nabbing colleagues and telling them about the great ways people are using Skype, and wikis, and blogs, and google maps, and epals and so many many tools and ideas to engage and excite students and to build their sense of themselves as part of a global community – there is so much to think about that I can barely punctuate any of it at all!
    And the Twitter peeps were so great – the networking to fnid collaborators and likeminded teachers was great – I nwo have a much bigger PLN, with a strong contingent of innovative Aussie educators, a virtual bookclub and some great quotes and notes… all in all a really enriching experience.

  4. You are so right about the Principals not being there. Alan November says ‘take two students to PD days.’ I say, ‘take your Principal’. That is one way to make change in schools.

    I loved the conference too and I too think it was right to focus on the teaching aspect as the tech only complements the teaching.

    Nice post.

  5. Glen, I enjoyed reading about what is happening in ICT even though I’m not in a classroom. Great to see Teaching and Learning becoming the focus. Thanks for keeping us up to date.

  6. Thanks Grant! Its about time we had someone out their who supported self directed learning. Our students know so much more than we do when it come to ICT. Can’t wait to hear more.

  7. This post makes me wish i had went to this conference, sounds fantastic…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *