"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Getting on with it

The last week has been crazy and awesome at the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia. I was so excited to deliver my presentation on Gaming and Socratic thinking. My talk focused on the pedagogy behind gaming and why it is so important to get the planning right so that learning can be fun, critical and creative. We want our students to gain skills to be masters of their own learning. My presentation was really well received and I had some great conversations about it after. I have been asked to speak at another conference in the UK in October and hope I can get the finances together to go. I want to break up this post into common themes in conversations that I had and my takeaways from the conference that I need to implement. 

Conversation theme 1: Tech tools
Tools are great but you need to the pedagogy and the reasoning behind the tool before you use it. There seemed to me to be a lot about Google Apps and tools and not so much about the pedagogy and application. The tools have been around for some time now and they aren't new anymore. There was very little there that I hadn't seen before or that I don't already use in the classroom and so this says to me that Aussie's are really on top of what is going on in Edu tech.  

Conversation theme 2: Assessment

Around there world educators are drowning in assessment reporting and standardised testing and this time is taking away from really creative and innovative teaching. Administration is taking over our lives and teacher's are resenting the negative impact this is having on students. There needs to be accountability but trying to fit every one in the same box isn't really working. The assessments aren't necessarily helping students to become autonomous in their learning nor masters of their own learning style and skills. These standardised tests are a reflection not of the current digital age but of those concepts that were important in an industrialised age not an information society. 

Conversation theme 3: Confidence in digital spaces
The whole conference was about education and technology but there were many conversations about the skills needed for students to cope in a digital age. It is clear that there is a widening gap concerning those who have access to technology and those who don't. There was also a lot of chatter about the importance of having parents on board and being able to provide them with information about the fun learning opportunities that their kids were having at school. 

Takeaway 1: Have fun

There have been times this term when I have been really bogged down in paperwork. The new admin system at work is not functioning like it should and it has taken up a lot of time to get things fixed. 
This has impacted on my time to be creative and I feel that has always been key to how I teach and I haven't been having fun. Al Doyle has a great motto which is that he needs to be having more fun that everyone else in the room. If the teacher isn't have fun then how can we expect our learners to enjoy learning. 

Takeaway 2: Gamify

There are ways that I can incorporate more gamification and game design in teaching and learning and I need to step up more with this. There are so many tools and even in an adult learning environment they can be incorporated. 

Takeaway 3: Collaboration
I really enjoyed the session on Mystery Skype. I love the idea that you can connect with other teachers and the class has to work out where they are in the world. I really would like to connect with other TPC classes around the state and this would be a great way of doing this. Working together makes life so much easier and richer. 

Takeaway 4: Augmented Reality

I loved the session on Augmented Reality and didn't realise that it is such a growing field. My new party trick is the app Zookazam. You do need an American $1 bill or you can print background triggers from their website. If you are really clever you can move the elephant from the bill onto your hand. The elephant moves and looks around. If you touch it the elephant will move. So much fun to be had there. 

With information overload I know I will be thinking over and over things and going back over sessions in the coming weeks. Just before I left the conference I wrote an email to my self using Future.org and will receive it a year from now. I wonder if I will have accomplished what I set out to do from the conference. Interesting. 

Anyway I hope all my Aussie teacher friends are enjoying their holidays. Safe travels. 

Until next time,