Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Spin-offs from a conference…

Since attending the inaugural EdTechConf two weeks ago, there have been a few spin-offs worth mentioning (well, some I can’t mention yet – some exciting things in the pipeline.  Watch this space!) 

Firstly, as a direct result of my having attended Tim Keller’s talk on Smart Cyber-Parenting on the Thursday evening, we have managed to secure his services to give the same talk at our school on Tuesday evening, 7 June.  This is such a worthwhile talk and should not be missed by any parent with a tween or teen.  In fact, when I told my daughter who had attended the first talk with me, she asked if she could go again, because she found it so interesting! 

Then, yesterday I got a call from Mathew Phillips at Sun Valley Primary.  He had seen my presentation on ICT integration at the conference and he asked if he could come and spend time with me in our lab, to see exactly how it all works.  So today I had a visitor!  Mathew spent time talking to me and looking around our lab while some lessons were in progress, and then I took him across to our High School where he was given a tour of the ICT Centre and Library as well as our Data Centre.  We also stopped in at the Junior School to show him our Junior School lab.  Mathew was suitably impressed and went home with a lot to think about and mull over.

Lastly, I needed some input about uploading videos into a wiki I am working on, so who did I call on?  Fiona Beal, of course!  Fiona works at Fish Hoek Primary School and, although we have met on a few occasions before, we reconnected at the EdTechConf.  I sent her an email with my query and in the blink of an eye I had an offer of help in the form of a blog post – see here: http://bit.ly/lvZORc

Now that’s the power of conference networking and a great PLN.  We are in this together – why not pool resources and share ideas?  Our students can only benefit from it.

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The Best Conference Ever!

On this past Friday and Saturday morning I and two of my colleagues (@folklind and @juanita_o) attended the first ever EdTechConf held in Cape Town.  So often one attends a conference and walks away feeling that your time has been wasted or that it could have been shorter or even that you got nothing out of it.  That was not the case for this conference – in short, it was nothing but excellent.

I was also very honoured to have been asked to be part of a Best Practice Panel discussion and present a short insert on how we handle ICT at my school and which Web 2.0 tools we have used successfully, and I was very pleased to have been able to add to the value of this conference.  In reflection, here are the highlights of the conference for me:

  • The talk by @timkeller (Tim Keller) on Smart Cyber-Parenting – Online Safety for Parents and Kids.  It was nothing short of brilliant.  Extremely informative and brimming with eye-popping statistics to support his talk. (This took place on the Thursday evening before the conference.)
  • The talk on Technophobic Teachers by Arthur Preston (@artpreston) was spot on and very humorous!  We can all identify with members of his Technophobe family in our schools, but as he rightly said – there is help at hand!
  • The panel discussion titled “You put WHAT on Facebook?!” – this was eye-opening and confirmed many of the thoughts and opinions I have on the topic of student-teacher relationships on Facebook.  It also highlighted many legal aspects we need to take into account.  The introduction by Gavin Keller (@gavinkeller) was serious but hilarious at the same time.  Much food for thought!
  • The many people I met, especially those I had been following on Twitter.  How lovely it was to meet them face-to-face!  I also expanded my PLN which is why I was there in the first place.
  • The wonderful tools and resources we were given to take away and explore at our leisure, including a flash drive full of resources and a wonderful session by Maggie Verster (@maggiev) on how to bookmark all these resources in ONE place.

I look forward to ETC 2012 and I hope to take some of my teacher colleagues with me next time.  This conference is not just for the tech geeks and ICT managers.  It is for the teachers who work at ground level, in the classrooms.  They are the ones who need to be there, as they have the most to gain.

A word of thanks to the organisers Tim Keller and Art Preston, as well as the team at The International School of Cape Town, for a very memorable event.  Anyone interested in reading about the conference, log in to Twitter and search for #edtechconf.

The Value of Touch Typing


If there is one regret I have, it is that I never learnt how to touch type. I have developed my own awkward two or three-finger method and I get by quite adequately, but I’m never going to win any prizes for style! I often watch in awe as my colleagues who can type properly, seem to effortlessly float their hands over the keys, eyes straight ahead, as the words simply appear on the screen in front of them. Sigh…

Well, to try to instill good typing habits in our students, we start with touch typing in Grade 1 already, so by the time they get to Grade 4 and my IT centre, they have a fair idea of where the keys are and how the hands should be placed. Today we implemented a new touch typing programme, Master Key, and so far it seems to be a hit. The children liked the programme and enjoyed the fact that they were given feedback as to their progress. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come. The children generally do not enjoy typing, but I know that they will thank me one day when they are able to put their well-heeled typing skills into practice!