ACEC 2010 – Challenging and thought provoking

Well, what an amazing few days. The ACEC 2010 conference I was fortunate enough to attend last week was encouraging, challenging and though provoking. I’ve since had a few days to let everything sink in, and give my brain a rest, so thought it was about time I shared some of my thoughts about the most relevant parts of the conference for my / our journey at Covenant.

1:1 Journey

One of the main purposes of my time at ACEC2010 has been to think further about the possibility of CCS going towards a 1:1 computing model sometime in the next 12-24 months. I was fortunate enough to have an informal chat with Brett Moller, from Kings Christian College on the Gold Coast yesterday afternoon. He also presented today sharing about the digital journey they have taken. A few points and questions raised for further thought:

  1. An important consideration when looking at 1:1, is the total cost of ownership (TCO). Specifically when deciding about what platform to use, measuring the TCO including software licencing costs could shed a new light on the most cost effective way forward. Indeed, it is interesting to note that KCC was in a similar position 2 years ago, to where we are now in terms of the platform they were using, and general school setup.
  2. Any decision needs to be driven by educational needs. The technology needs to respond to educational needs, not the other way around. It would be great to have a look at the organisational structure of ICT at KCC. I wonder if our model should be changed. Is it educationally focused?
  3. What do we want to achieve at a teaching and learning level? Does our school vision statement guide us at all?
  4. We’ll discuss this at our next ICT committee meeting. (I’d best organise a meeting for early term 2).
  5. I need to get out and have a look at some 1:1 schools. Methodist Ladies College at Burwood is a good one. Perhaps it is worth visiting Brett at Kings sometime?
  6. Overall, it seems as though the question we should be asking is not “should we?” but “HOW should we?”.

Big Picture ICT Integration

A number of the keynote addresses focused on the macro issue of the ‘why’ behind what we are doing with ICT integration. Alan November made a number of interesting points about how students learn:

  • Students are finding it very difficult to apply what they learn in school, once they leave school and enter further study or work.
  • Students are learning when they have less formal conversations with each other after class – not when they are sitting in a classroom. This is where the engagement comes in and you can begin to see the importance of engaging the students.
  • The most important stuff in the classroom isn’t the ‘knowledge’ disseminated by the teacher. Rather, it is the processing the students do with the knowledge.

He also made a very interesting point about the usefulness of the work created by students. He asked the question whether students are creating a legacy that outlasts them in the classroom. Are they creating work that is useful to other students or members of society in some way? Are they adding value to their community through their efforts? He contended that it is their digital responsibility to share knowledge. He shared a couple of practical examples about how this might be done – one that I thought we could pick up on was junior school classes sharing what is happening in their class (or other JS classes) via a podcast which can then be shared via the website. I plan to look into this one and chat with our great JS teachers.

These notes were created as part of the keynote address.

He, and others like Tom March (whose presentation is on his blog), the (somewhat deliberately) controversial Gary Stager, and local integration guru Chris Betcher all seemed to generally be on the same page. (If not exactly the same page, the chapter was the same!) The most relevant message, and one I’ll continue to focus on with our staff, is that the learning experience MUST come first. MUST! The best educational use of technology will come when your desired learning outcomes are decided first. Then, appropriate technology can be chosen to find the best way to engage the students in the achievement of those outcomes.

Web Tools

Yes, I’ve resisted using the ‘Web2.0’ term again, but I thought it was interesting the web tools that different presenters and speakers used over the few days. A quick summary:

  • Twitter
    • Some stats: Over 6000 tweets, from over 450 different twits, and the #1 Aust trending topic.
    • During the sessions, keynotes in particular, delegates were communicating in real time their thoughts and ideas on what was happening at the time. Any links or documents that were mentioned were quickly linked in a tweet.
    • Those tweeting were actively engaged. I found that personally, I took in far more when I was tweeting (@daveyoul / #acec2010) than when I wasn’t. It was too easy to lose focus otherwise.
  • GoogleDocs
    • See above link for a document that was created as notes during Alan November’s keynote by 3 delegates working collaboratively.
    • A number of others were using Gdocs to create their conference notes, which they presumably would then share with others.
  • Evernote
    • A number of people – including yours truly, used Evernote to save conference notes.
    • I created an ACEC2010 notebook some time ago, and then created a new note (with acec2010 tag) for each presentation.
    • I now have full access to these notes at any time or place thanks to Evernote for iPhone.
    • In fact, I’ve just decided that I use Evernote so much that it is time to sign up for a premium account!
  • MS Word?!
    • I was surprised to see some people sticking with the tried and tested to make their conference notes!
    • That’s the great thing about tech now – so many tools that we are spoilt for choice.
  • Etherpad
    • A few sessions used Etherpad for collaborative editing of a public pad to share notes, links etc.
    • See this one created during a session on the use of Virtual Worlds.
    • Sadly, someone, supposedly a conference delegate, decided to hijack the Etherpad in an attempt to show superior intelligence. I think they failed thanks to a bit of backing up, and the nifty revision slider!
  • Google Wave
    • Wave was conspicuous because of its absence.
    • I think there are so many great educational possibilities for wave, that I was surprised to not even hear it mentioned. (It may have been in sessions I didn’t attend).
    • Perhaps because it is still in preview stage people aren’t using it?
    • Maybe I can start using it a bit more and present on its uses in future?
    • If you need an invite, I’ve got plenty.
    • It could have been great for taking notes during sessions. Invite all session delegates to a wave, then everyone collaboratively has access to notes and can discuss there.

I think that will do for now… phew!

That said, there is so much from the conference for me to process, re-watch, go over and over, that it could keep me going with blog posts for months! Guess I’ve got no excuse now really!

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