Beware… THIS IS THE LONGEST BLOG POST EVER! You may want to grab a coffee and get yourself comfortable!
Ok. Here we go.
This will be attempt at writing hopefully a not too long-winded blog post about a wonderful experience. Not that I do not like long winded, just that i also like things that are condensed, organized and easy to read. So.
Last week I had the enormous pleasure of attending the uLearn12 conference in Auckland, New Zealand. A conference that is highly regarded in being an amazing educational experience for all involved, all 1800 odd participants and presenters alike, not to mention the hoards of people following twitter streams or watching keynote session live online.
In 2010 I attended uLearn in Christchurch and it was, for a young eLearning Coordinator like myself, the one greatest learning experiences of my life. The contacts that I made, the sessions I attended and keynotes speakers I heard all came together beautifully to develop and enhance my passion for education and technology integration. So this year when given the chance, I just had to return!
Throughout the conference there really did seem to be an aura throughout the people that attended. Perhaps this a NZ thing, but the welcoming nature of all those that attended made the uLearn experience just that much better.
At this point I am really at a loss where to begin and what to say. It may be perhaps easier to write a novel! Hmmmm. What I will do is run you through, very very simply, the sessions that I attended and attempt to stick to no more than say… 6, random number I know but… dot points about either what I took away, things I learnt, key messages, etc…
Here we go!
Keynote Session 1: Jason Ohler – http://www.jasonohler.com/index.cfm
– Showed the possibilities of what may eventuate with the possible future release of the Google Augmented Reality Glasses! Video Below!
– Discussed that ALL kids need to be mobile and connected.
– That the science of being a good teacher is not just about knowing varied methodologies, but also knowing which to use and when.
– There needs to be a high value placed on writing within teaching. Good media, good work, all contain examples of good writing.
– We have access to an enormous wealth of online text and information. Searching for it is one thing. Deciphering it is another! Both skills are as valuable as each other!
Breakout Session 1: Destroy Replace: Putting Minecraft in Schools – Tony Richards – http://www.itmadesimple.com/BlogRetrieve.aspx?BlogID=5876
– Minecraft is more than just a game. We’ve heard of game based learning and through playing Minecraft, students are directly and indirectly involved in the following: Discussion, Planning, Accessing the Internet, Testing, Risk Taking, Building, Destroying Imagination, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Patience.
– I discovered, and Tony was very correct in saying this, not that I doubted him, that Minecraft is VERY CPU intensive! My MacBook pro became very sluggish and slow and I soon found that if I were running more than 2-3 applications, they simply would not function!
– That the resources allocated to Minecraft are enormous. That the blogs and wikis that have been designed to assist ‘Crafters in developing their worlds is excellent. This one being an example: http://www.minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Minecraft_Wiki
– I quickly learned a new respect for the both the game and the kids who play it! I am a gamer. But was utterly hopeless at this! I soon found myself engaged and shutting off from the world around me to concentrate on building, destroying and running from the creatures trying to kill me off!
– That there is an excellent site dedicated to assisting teachers in setting up Minecraft within their settings. http://minecraftedu.com/ being one of them!
– That like most online tools, games, etc.. They are all only limited by your imagination! The video below being a great example of integrating Minecraft in to an educational setting!
Breakout Session 2: Hooking Learners with Digital Tools – Kevin Honeycutt – http://kevinhoneycutt.org/
– As teachers we have to be pioneers in the industry that we’re in. We need to take risks, try new things and be the best teachers we can!
– With new technology we can now do things within our classrooms that we could never do before. We need to harness this found power we have to teach and educate!
– We need to let the kids we teach tell their stories. Kids want authentic and real teaching.
– There are two words that set a lot of teachers and students apart. Work. Ethic. You reap what you sow and get out what you put in. Simple as that.
– Kevin’s website is an excellent resource for teaching and learning ideas. Spend time here and investigate what Kevin has to offer! His ‘Doomsday Task’ is Brilliant!
– For an added challenge, stop kids in the middle of a lesson and “find me information about… you have 2minutes” Reward kids for the answers that they find. This keeps them on their toes!
– An added #7! – Make kids feel powerful and brilliant. No matter their behaviour and setting and background, give them a go. And… praise them for the work they do!
Keynote Session 2: Khoa Do – http://www.khoado.com.au/
– Khoa Do, whose famous brother you may know being Ahn Do, the Australian comedian was a very motivational speaker who came sharing messages of positivity and belief that any student can achieve!
– Khoa was the Australian of the year in 2005 and ce touted as wearing many hats from Australian Film maker, to motivational speaker, to also being widely recognised for his work with disadvantaged Australian youths.
– Khoa’s messages of leadership, following your heart and believing in yourself were very inspiring. The messages that having been a refugee on a boat to Australia when he was an infant to becoming Australian of the year was an outstanding story with insightful and personal messages.
Keynote Session 3: Kevin Honeycutt – http://kevinhoneycutt.org/
– Kevin is technology integration specialist. Has spent years as an art teacher in difficult settings making the most from limited resources and opportunities. He believes in creating a belief in students that they can do anything!
– Kids can make up to 110 decisions per minute. This is the same as a fighter pilot. This can be great when playing video games, not so much when involved in social media interactions and especially not so much when they are disgruntled and upset online.
– Having kids spending time using their technology to do awesome and great things means less time for them to be doing bad and inappropriate things.
– The tools that students are using are now the most powerful in history. There is more power in a smart phone than what was in the CPU computer that took man to the moon.
– Kids need to be taught how to manage their devices. Not have their devices manage them!
– Lastly, teachers can often be apprehensive about upsetting kids when it comes to removing technology, teaching them harsh lessons about things they may have done online but the story goes… You can make them hate you for a day, but you’ll help them for a lifetime.
Breakout Session 3: Creating iBooks – It can’t be that hard, my year 9 students are doing it! – Geoff Powell – www.sthildas.qld.edu.au
– Geoff is the Director of Learning Technology at St. Hildas School on the Gold Coast in Queensland and has an extensive knowledge about integrating technology in to teaching and learning programs as well as overseeing 1:1 iPad integration on a large scale.
– That the creation of eBooks for iOS devices is quite simple and need not be difficult. That as long as you create your eBooks in a program such as Pages and stick to using ‘heading1’ and ‘heading2’, your chapters and title headings will automatically be created for you.
– That the creation of eBooks can be a very powerful thing if shared amongst other students. A showcase of work that can be annotated and highlighted! Powerful teaching.
– Geoff also demonstrated how his school used eBooks to create and share important documents such as Book Lists and Subject Selection Guides. The impressive thing being embedded video of students talking about what each subject was and what was involved!
– We also investigated the use of Apple’s eBook Authoring tool iBook Author. This I have had a play with and created several eBooks through. It’s a great free tool and one that I highly recommend.
– Lastly, we very quickly spoke about the iPad App CCB, or Creative Book Builder. This would be the most comprehensive iPad App there is for iBook / eBook authoring. In App terms it may very well be the best $5.50 that you and your students ever spend!
Breakout Session 4: Apple Tools sMACdown – Dorothy Burt & Fiona Grant
– This session I unfortunately missed through having issues with my presentation that I needed to complete!
– I will say that I attended the equivalent of this session in 2010 and it was the session of the Conference back then that blew my mind! The resources that were shared and discussed were enormous and extremely helpful!
– The link to the sMACdown site that has been created can be found here: https://sites.google.com/a/ptengland.school.nz/smacdown/
– The sMAC down work a little similar to that of a Teach meet. Each person gets 2 minutes to share an idea. Attendees can have multiple turns at speaking, but each time, you only get 2 minutes.
– An awesome idea and one that once again appeared to very popular!
Breakout Session 5: BYOD @ MLC – A College’s 1:1 iPad BYOD Journey – Corrie Barclay
– This session as you may be aware was my own!
– Here I shared my College’s iPad BYOD Journey to assist other settings moving towards a 1:1 BYOD model as well as how we have utilised our chosen device, the iPad, to enhance teaching and learning.
– The slideshare is below! Enjoy!
Keynote Session 4: Glenn Capelli – http://glenncapelli.com/
– What an amazing speaker! His ideology on leadership, education and life in general was such an inspiration to listen to. Similar to that of Kevin’s keynote the previous day!
– Glenn described his thought processes on Learning in layers as well as discussing what is our reason for being/existing. Why do we do as educators that make such a difference in the lives of others?
– One of the points that Glenn made was that Natural play is the greatest developer of the brain we know. Why is it then that adults we do very little of this? This comment really had me thinking. Google’s 20% projects came to mind as well as the comments from another Keynote speaker I heard at the VITTA conference earlier this year who discussed how China has the smartest academic students in the world, but very very few entrepreneurs. America on the other hand, outstanding entrepreneurs, but not known for their academics. Creativity and play feeds the brain!
– One of Glenn’s biggest messages came in the form of ‘Kaizen’ that means small, seemingly insignificant, on-going, continuous and never ending improvements. It refers to taking large problems or issues and chipping away at them until them become completed or irrelevant. It also means looking at your setting, your teaching practice and looking for that small improvement to increase efficiency in what you’re trying to achieve? Overall, that you do not need to make massive changes in order to grow and develop!
– Another one of Glenn’s messages that were put forward was ‘How Better – How Else’. How better can you do something and/or how else can you do this. An interesting concept inn relation to thinking about your teaching practice.
– Lastly. The 3 Russian Brothers and their Cousin. Morov (What can add?). Lessov (What can we do less of?). Ridov (What can we cull, shape/cut away, etc…). And Tossin (What can we toss in to further improve what we’re doing!).
So. That’s it in the biggest nutshell ever! I would like to thank my College, Manor Lakes P-12 College for letting me attend, again, as well as the 3 colleagues that I attended with who made the adventure over to the ‘Long White Cloud’ that so much more enjoyable! Thank you Evan, Michelle and Jess!
I’m gonna stop now! Enough typing! My university assignments were never this large!
Thanks for reading! 😉