On Wednesday again I went into College again for student inductions - they have been going really well and by our third day we are getting into our stride. A few other matters cropped up that I wanted to sort out so it was a bit later by the time I set off to Leeds.
I got to the conference for lunchtime (again) so in good time for the keynote which was Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology presented by Karen Cator. There will be plenty of reviews and recordings of the presentation and the slides of the presentation are on the ALT Crowdvine site etc. so I'll just concentrate on what I thought of it and what appealed to me. First of all the fact that it was online and it worked very well was a major achievement and has restored some of my faith in online conferences. The set up using Adobe Connect was good, I like the interface and it works if you have expertise to control it in all the different areas - technical and moderating. The speaker, Karen Cator, was very appealing and engaging and talked quickly and enthusiastically (there is nothing worse than someone droning on when you are watching them deliver online). It is a really difficult thing to do because if you're not getting feedback from the audience as you do in real life then you have no prompts. I also liked the fact that you could see and hear her which makes it easier for me as if it's just audio I have to concentrate really hard and build a visual picture in my mind to match the audio (but that's another story).
Karen talked about the Superbowl - Transmedia Bowl and how the 30sec adverts are so important - not just for the 30secs when broadcast but the before and after and how the consumers attention has to be grabbed. There are competitions and contests including popular video clips and games such as Angry Birds (yay). An interesting point was illustrated by the popularity of a webcam of baby eagles and how they had been filmed from the eggs being laid to hatching and how it has fascinated so many people. I think it's a great example because it goes against the perception of people having short attention spans and not wanting to be involved with something that is not high noise and action. If an event is interesting then people will become absorbed and want to follow it.
She went on to talk about how there is so much happening outside education using technology.
Digital content allows us to access experts. In education we are data poor but the transition to digital will lead to powered up learning environments. The idea of a Harry Potter style newspapers are quite feasible with moving and changing images embedded in other media.
National Education Technology Plan.
How can we create a totally connected teaching profession?
Is technology a 'force multiplier'?
School can become a node on network of learning. Learning should be keep learning between frustration and boredom to include productivity.
Digital Promise. Research focusing on the market place & demand. Intelligent demand cycle.
Connected online collaborative communities using motivational things like badges - levelling up like in games. Learning data could travel with the student. Bring the data & information closer to the student.
We still need to be aware of equity issues. Opportunity to learn - places to access technology - access to government information and health information. The inverted classroom - do work & problems at home then collaborate & share at school. Tests are inadequate to answer question of whether technology is worth it.
Next event was the ALT AGM which was quite well attended. Reports from various people including the treasurer and president. One highlight for me was confirmation of being elected as vice chair.
Then on to chairing a session by Terri Kinnison and others from LSIS which was to Launch the new LSIS Technology toolkits. I was particularly interested in this because of Generator which was originally a tool introduced by Becta. The purpose of Generator is to help FE organisations assess and improve their use of technology. I have a slightly sceptical view of using Generator which I have discussed before when we were part of the Becta Technology Exemplar Network. It does have some value as it can be used as a framework and outlines the areas that use of technology in colleges can be considered to be part of. It has value as a measure of e-maturity and produces results in a visually appealing way. However, in the previous version, it was laborious to use and very time consuming. We spent a lot of time completing a full review and I presented it at our e-Learning strategy group meeting and demonstrated how the tool could be used but there was no way any teaching or management staff were going to actually sit down and do a review. We did use it to inform our e-Learning strategy but not as the only contributing factor. I am hopeful that the new improved version that LSIS have launched will be more focused and useful. The presentation and presenters were very interesting and informative.
Next I chaired another session which was 3 short papers.
The first one was Camels in Wales! – finding riches in a barren climate by Steve Woodward, Trevor Price, Haydn Blackey. Trevor delivered an interesting presentation about the CAMEL project and how collaborative groups had been set up and met to discuss how to use and develop various e-learning technologies.
The second paper was The Bloomsbury Media Cloud – a shared digital media service by Sarah Sherman.
Sarah gave a great presentation about the collaboration between the Bloomsbury group of colleges and their development of media cloud digital repository and sharing service.
Finally Sue Sentance presented Supporting education students on school placements with mobile devices. This project used mobile phone texting to help students with reading and assignments while training as teachers. It was interesting to me for a few reasons. Firstly I think texting is one of the most valuable communication tools that there is and even if you are limited to 140 or 160 characters it is still possible to have meaningful discussions and exchanges of information and learning. Secondly when on teacher training and when teaching it becomes all encompassing and overwhelming. It is really difficult to fit in the studying and academic work too so prompts and support at regular intervals are invaluable. Thirdly, we use txttools at our College for tutors and lecturers to communicate with students so it is interesting to compare ways of usage and get ideas for improving our practice.
Another great day