The build-up was tremendous, the hours of preparation numerous and the feelings of expectation and anticipation were huge. Could we pull it off, the six of us that make up the Elkanah IT Department? We were confident that we could and, oh boy, we DID!! I am so proud to be part of such an awesome team.
The EdTechConf eXtended event at Elkanah has come and gone but I don’t have that feeling of deflation and emptiness one often experiences after a particularly exciting event. To the contrary, I feel elated, not only because we did a great job, but because we were able to excite and inspire a group of teachers, give them ideas and possibly some tools for including the use of technology in their classrooms, making it an add-in, not an add-on! That’s what this event was all about and even if each teacher took away only one idea to make a start, take that first step, then we were 100% successful in our mission!
Key points that came out of this conference were:
* Buy-in from school management is vital (sadly very few principals attended our conference).
* Technology needs to be an integral part of teaching today as our students are born tech savvy (digital natives)
* It must be an add-in not an add-on
* Teachers should start small, choose one aspect/topic and use technology to enhance it
* Baby steps… Take that first step!
We had a variety of wonderful presenters who provided much inspiration and to them we are very grateful for their input an willingness to share their experiences and projects. All their bios and presentations are available here: http://elkedtechconf.blogspot.com.
The EdTechConf team consisting of Tim Keller, Arthur Preston, Rick Greener and Helen Temple have started an amazing initiative which is gaining momentum beyond their wildest imagination, with a number of future eXtended events planned already. The first one will take place at Cornwall Hill College in Gauteng in October. See www.edtechconf.co.za .
Elkanah will continue to be closely involved with EdTechConf, especially since Arthur Preston has recently been appointed as the new head of our Senior Primary, where I am based!
When our chilren are enrolled at our school their parents sign an Acceptable Use Policy which covers their children’s use of the schools IT equipment, the internet, email etc. Since this is signed for on their behalf and the wording is aimed at adults, it means absolutely nothing the children who will be using the equipment. So, each year I start off the year with an orientation lesson covering log-in procedures, usernames, passwords, use of the IT Centre and the equipment etc. Then I make them sign a child-friendly version of the AUP their parents have signed. It’s a basic and simpler version (covering my classroom rules), but the children take it seriously and for the Grade 4′s it is a highlight beacuse they get to design and use their own signature for the first time! The AUP is dated and pasted into their ICT books, where we can refer to it during the year if we need to. I tell them that it is a ‘legal’ document which binds them into good behaviour and respect for property which does not belong to them. I have done this for five years now and it seems to work, because we have had no issues and the school’s property is beautifully looked after and in surprisingly good shape after continuous use and high volume in the IT Centre.