Are you all ‘teched-out’ (a new Conference phrase we heard bandied about) after attending the SchoolNet2013 ICT in the Classroom Conference held in Bloemfontein from 2nd – 4th July? Have you returned home inspired and motivated to do more in your classroom in the ensuing days? Of course all conferences have their hiccups of one sort or another but the relationships formed and the learning that takes place in the space of three days definitely outweighs any downsides!
It was a busy time getting ready for the Conference in Blomefontein but Janet Thomson, SchoolNet’s Executive Director, skilfully co-ordinated the Schoolnet team and the Bloemfontein ICTize team as they prepared for this biennial event. In this picture you can see the whole team on the stage at the close of the Conference.
Our keynote speakers
SchoolNet conferences are known for including International speakers and we were thrilled to have four superb speakers who added their perspectives to those of our wonderful local presenters from around South Africa. We were especially thrilled to have our Deputy Minister of Education, Enver Surty, open the Conference.
Naomi Harm has been an invited keynote speaker at several of our SchoolNet Conferences over the years and she always gives us so much to think about and take away. She presented tirelessly throughout the Conference with her various presentations and the closing keynote in which she summed up the Conference with her 'Top 10 Learning Tips'. Naomi’s presentations included:
- So You Want to Hangout In My Community?|
- What Would You Like to Create Today? iPad Literacy Center “Apptivities"
- Intel Elements: Blended Learning
- Visualize Your Thinking and Learning - Visual Ranking App
- Closing Keynote ‘10 top learning tips’
You can read Naomi’s conference reflections on the conference on her great blog http://goo.gl/jv2ZV She provides links to all her presentations on her blog.
Baldev Singh from Imagine Education in the UK was our opening keynote speaker. Baldev presented his keynote on "Trends in Technology and Implications for Learning, Teaching and Developing the International Dimension in Schools." One of Baldev’s quotes was constantly tweeted throughout the conference ‘Technology might be the answer but what was the question?’ Baldev’s workshop sessions in the following two days included:
- 21st Century Learning Design Through a Technology Lens
- Create System-wide Change. Build Innovative Schools
Frédéric Kastner and Malik Wilson are from The Virtual School in the UK. They presented
a keynote entitled ‘Open Educational Resource Movement –Inspiring your Teaching and Sharing with Teachers around the world’. During the conference they provided sessions of hands-on movie-making projects through digital video productions and screen casting opportunities with free online and offline resources. Teachers were very eager to participate in these content creation technology sessions and one couldn’t easily get a seat in their sessions. Their sessions included:
- Finding and using OER in and around the classroom.
- Enabling teachers to create their own Multimedia Lessons
Apart from our keynote speakers we had inspiring local presenters of high calibre leading different sessions. We are very grateful for their input.
It is amazing how social media can bind a conference together. Maggie Verster did a sterling job of introducing teachers to Twitter and keeping the social media alive and well. We have captured the tweet archIves from the three days of the Conference using Storify:
Day 2: http://goo.gl/sWXmG
Day 3: http://goo.gl/qN3Wj
Our Conference blog is being updated with all the presentations that have been received to date. These presentations have also been shared via Dropbox plus they also appear on the SchoolNet website under Conference (http://schoolnet.org.za/conference_2013/). Photos can be found on the SchoolNet website https://picasaweb.google.com/114485521154323474375.
It was according to all accounts a very successful and exciting conference. Here are some of the reflections via blogs or PDFs. (Please let us know if you have written a reflection on your blog)
- @MaryFaragher 's reflection on the #Schoolnetsa conference "The last three days I have been at a conference for “innovative teachers” in Bloem and it has been amazing! From the breadcrumb navigation to presentations of the latest technology, to the active workshops that formed the bulk of the programme, it has been an eye-opening journey."http://bit.ly/13o38uA
- @nharm reflection on our #schoolnetsa conference. It also has all her resources!! http://goo.gl/jv2ZV
- Bongani Ncube from Ilanga Secondary School, Emalahleni, has sent in a reflection.
- Frédéric Kastner has a reflection on his Virtual School blog
- Kobus van Wyk also writes about the SchoolNet Conference http://goo.gl/X50Jx
Three essential points
Once again we realise three essential points that emerge after attending a national technology in education conference:
1) We not alone. Everyone starts as a beginner and everyone can move forward and use technology where it matters most; no-one knows everything and everyone learns from others.
2) We share a worldwide vision for improving our education system and embracing technology to enhance it and do things we couldn't do before including technology. Attending a conference often shows new ways of engaging in and using technology to develop student skills at one’s own school.
3) A personal learning network is important. A conference introduces us to others who we can now add to our PLN. Joining Twitter links us to a means of gathering a powerful learning network around us whenever we need them. We hope that you will include @SchoolNetSA as one of your free professional development organisations in this personal learning network.
As we all know, not every teacher at our schools feels as enthusiastic as we do about the value of using technology to improve student learning and engagement. So, as you return to your day to day environment we encourage you to chat and share in the corridors, discuss over lunch, and offer ideas for the possibilities for learning that technology can bring. Use your energy and renewed enthusiasm to build and develop relationships with your various teams, teachers and students to slowly help all to see that connections and learning through and with technology are important in education.
If you were at the conference we have sent you a link to an evaluation form. Please fill it in so that we can make our next conference even better.