Posted by Karen Stadler
The title of this post refers to the Twitter hashtag for the Intel ICT In the Classroom Conference I recently attended in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was a whirlwind three days filled with excellent keynote presentations by international speakers, Naomi Harm (@nharm), John Davitt (@johndavitt) and Jane Hart (@c4lpt).
I enjoy reflecting on such conferences and seeing exactly how much there was in it for me and whether it was worthwhile. I can wholeheartedly say that it was definitely worthwhile, if only for the privilege of hearing such talented international speakers, but also for the honour of learning from some very talented South African educators. I came away a little overwhelmed (as usual – totally over-resourced J), but very satisfied that my time had not been wasted. I met interesting people, made new ICT network connections and enjoyed three days with three colleagues from my school. Here were some highlights for me:
· Naomi Harm (@nharm) is the most resourceful and professional person I have ever had the privilege of meeting. She has a wonderful sharing spirit and conducts her sessions in such a manner that everyone is engaged and feels part of the group. She is extremely knowledgeable in her field and her experience in working with teachers of all levels of ICT proficiency shines through. I attended two of her sessions: ‘Google My Way’ and ‘Transforming Your Classroom Practice with Web 2.0 Literacy’, and I left both sessions with a ton of resources. Naomi’s keynote speech on Day 2 of the conference was also extremely good, with many ideas and tips for teachers as well as interesting statistics and need to know facts for educators all around the world. Here is the link to her blog: http://blog.innovativeeducator.us/
· As with our local EdTechConf, the continuous Twitterfeed and back channel so ably managed by Maggie Verster (@maggiev), assisted by Arthur Preston (@artpreston) and others, was fantastic. A constant stream of shared resources, comments and quotes added to the value of the conference. And Maggie herself is an awesome asset to educators in South Africa – her knowledge of Twitter and other social media in the educational setting is immeasurable – be sure to follow her on Twitter!
· Local educator, Peter de Lisle from Hilton College in KwaZulu Natal is a very interesting person. His session on ‘Useful Tools for Innovation Across the Curriculum’ was amazing to say the least. Whilst some of the tools he demonstrated did not really apply to me as a Senior Primary educator, this did not detract from my enjoyment of his presentation. Google Earth and Maps have also taken on a new dimension for me – one I intend to investigate in more depth as a result of this presentation. Peter is obviously a higher-order thinking person and I cannot help but think how privileged his students are to have him as their teacher. Check out his workshop tools on his website: http://goo.gl/mI2Dq .
· A two-hour long five-way Skype session involving four American educators and Gerald Roos from SchoolNet was very valuable in that these teachers very kindly shared and showcased many of the projects they had done in their classrooms. Having recently Skyped with an American class with my Grade 6s, I was very interested in finding new ideas of how to uses this free tool effectively. I did ask the question whether the American educators thought that Skype would become a paid for service, as a result of its acquisition by Microsoft. All four unanimously agreed that this would not happen, especially not for Skype in Education. I truly hope this is the case. This session also highlighted for me the digital divide that exists amongst educators in our country – but that is content for a later blog post; a story for another day.
There were many more highlights and as I sift through my copious notes and read the back channels and Twitter feeds, I will come back and edit this post. As I said, there was a lot to take in and process. It is happening slowly, but surely.
Do I think this conference was better than out local EdTechConf held in Cape Town in May? No, I don’t, but that is because the EdTechConf is a completely different concept. It has its place and, at this stage, is on a smaller scale. The aim of the EdTechConf is to reach teachers at grassroots level and show them that technology is possible at all levels with minimal financial implications. It compliments bigger conferences such as the SchoolNet one and has its own niche market. Watch out for news of EdTechConf eXtended@Elkanah – coming soon!