Reflections on a Conference

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Having recently returned from a national conference for educators in Lutheran schools, I have been thinking about what I learned, and what I will do with what I have learned.

Conferences can be great to attend, especially when there are large numbers of people who you know also in attendance. The networking and friendship renewal which goes on can be exhilarating. Keynote speakers can be inspiring and workshop presenters can engage the mind with possibilities. There is often much that you can get out of conferences; you can return from them with a heightened sense of excitement about what you want to achieve in your role back at school. Indeed, conferences can at times have a lasting impact on what happens in your workplace.

The lasting impact I have from this conference isn’t just the individual ‘bits of information’ I picked up on, or the new strategies and ideas presented. The lasting impact was seeing the way technology was used to enhance the conference and then considering how this could be of benefit as an educator. This is the first conference I have been to that had an integrated approach to using ICT to engage and connect participants. I was impressed that the conference actually endeavoured to emulate good teaching practice. There were some great presenters, and they had great things to share but my ‘deep learning’ happened elsewhere! These are my six main learning points (and the topics for my next 6 blog posts):

  • Youtube Front-loading
  • Using Twitter to Learn
  • The Conference App
  • Live Online Conference Presenters
  • The Power of Google Docs
  • YouTube Followup…Ongoing Learning

 

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Twitter for Education

Have just returned from Brisbane. This conference was the first conference I have attended where Social Media was a significant part of it. I have to say that it was a terrific experience to connect online with other educators. The real value I got out of it was being able to read on the conference hastag what other attendee’s thoughts were about presenters and their statements. There were a number times that I thought ‘Wow!’
I got so much out of the conference. I made the decision very early on to try and immerse myself in following the conference Twitter back channel by reading it constantly and contributing where I felt I had something to offer. I learnt a lot!
As I have just stated I got some immediate insight into what other attendees were thinking. This happened predominantly through people’s quoting of presenters. Every once in a while though someone would ask a question which prompted me to reflect on what was being said and every now and again a response came from someone else following the Twitter back channel. Also, there were a couple of occasions where a discussion ensued between people where someone would would challenge what was being tweeted. This added to the learning.
I also learnt from workshops I didn’t attend. At one point in the conference it became obvious that I made the wrong choice of workshops and wished that I had attended another one. I couldn’t because the workshop was at another venue, but I was able to catch up with other attendees and ask about it. It was valuable to read comments from other sessions which connected with session I was attending.
I need to wear hearing aids and there were a number of times where I was unable to hear what the presenter had said. In fact, in one of the presentations the keynote speaker’s was so hard to follow for me that the only thing I got out of it was from the Twitter feed! It was a wonderful presentation!
I hope that future conferences I attend will have Twitter as a significant part of it. I would like to see more of the staff in our schools use it. I got the sense that about 10% of people at the conference engaged with the Twitter aspect of the conference. This begs the question why? Which in turn leads me to ask how could greater engagement be fostered? It really took no effort to have the hashtag open as there was a dedicated wifi connection provided for us and it really was very easy to switch between taking notes on Google Drive and reading the Twitter feed. The Twitter feed on the hashtag could have been put up on a screen in the auditorium. There could have been greater use of the Twitter questions as part of the Q&A sessions. A workshop on use of social media by educators could have been offered.
The Brisbane ACLE was the most engaged I have been at a conference and I think a lot of that had to do with the high prominence of social media, especially Twitter. There was also a dedicated Facebook page but I didn’t use it at all. It certainly received some attention after the conference dinner however.