During the final week of the mid year break, we attended the EdTechSA - Debug Digital Technologies state conference. It was both an opportunity for us to present at our first conference, as well as an opportunity to build our networks with the South Australian education sector.
The opening Keynote speaker Julie Lindsay (http://twitter.com/julielindsay) has led the way in global collaboration in the classroom. Her keynote address, "Who said global collaboration was hard? Debugging the myth of connecting local to global" gave us much to think about as educators in a technologically advanced school. Were we really globally collaborating? Were we following the "norms of online global collaboration"? Or were we just creating global links but not truly working together. As young educators, truth be told, we felt a little out of our element by the end of Julie's address, perhaps we believed we were much further ahead with how we were connecting our students to the world around them and making practical use of the technology we have available at our fingertips.
However having said this everyone likes a challenge and it gave us the boost we needed to really embrace the concepts and challenges that were discussed throughout the remainder of the conference. Some of the most interesting discussions focused on "what do we think an engaged classroom should look like and sound like?"
It certainly made for some interesting discussion among the group, with the general consensus being that the 21st Century classroom should no longer be one of rows of tables and silent individual working. But rather a loud, collaborative one, where students are able to move around the space and work where they feel most comfortable. Within the classroom environment a culture of learning should be established, where technology use is seemlessly integrated into lessons, with a purpose, not just as a token effort. There are a number of ways to achieve this, and the most worthwhile part of the EdTechSA conference was having the opportunity to see how others are achieving this.
We were lucky to attend a workshop on Google Apps in Education. Who knew there were SO MANY Google Apps out there. One of the most eye opening experiences for us was discovering just how much more there is to be discovered. As a Microsoft school, we have tended toward programs available online and through the Microsoft Store. Seeing how easily we could also integrate the use of Google Apps into our classrooms left us feeling empowered and excited!
However easily the most powerful element of the EdTechSA Conference, was the ability for us to present a workshop ourselves. Igniting Inquiry and Imagination - Harnessing the power of technology to engage and prepare Year 7 students for 21st century learning was our opportunity to share our experiences and knowledge in our digital classroom practices. We focused primarily on the way we use Microsoft OneNote to create paperless units of work and how we integrate the use of other online programs to enhance and expand our students knowledge of topics of work. This workshop provided the opportunity to share with others how they too, can easily create an online space where students can access curriculum and learning activity resources where they can collaborate with their peers and store their own work.
We introduced some of our favourite programs such as Plickers, a fabulous tool allowing real time feedback of student knowledge in a fun and easy to set up fashion. Blendspace is another favourite, an online lesson planning tool which when utilsed properly allows students to access a well organised flipped learning experience. Padlet, Popplet and Prezi round out the favourites we discussed in our workshop. You can find links to all these resources and more on our Terrific Technology Page.
Sometimes using a conference to network with other educators can be a daunting experience, however on this particular occasion it proved to be quite valuable. Many a connection was formed and they are already leading us down a path of some very exciting ventures which we hope will continue to provide some exceptional learning experiences for our students and us as their teachers.