The #DLTV2014 Conference

It is hard to believe it is only a bit over a week since the first Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria Annual Conference.  It was a two day conference focussing on using digital tools for teaching and learning and innovation in our classrooms, which is the core focus of DLTV, the newly formed subject association.  DLTV works to ensure  “every learner is enabled, inspired and empowered to participate, contribute and shape their world through digital technology”.  It replaces what were two established subject associations in Victoria, VITTA and ICTEV.  As the two associations merged in January, forming DLTV, this was technically a first conference, although we were very lucky to bring our experiences from both organisations.

I was fortunate enough to be the chair for the conference meaning I was part of the planning from day one, which consisted of thinking of a theme. The theme, creating new connections, came very quickly to us and it made a lot of sense from our first meeting.  As educators we are always making connections, and so are our students as they learn. As two former subject associations we were making new connections in coming together. And the icing on the cake was that all of us on the conference committee know how important it is for educators to be connected in contemporary learning.

Once we had our theme in place we met to discuss what we wanted to achieve from the conference. For some time now I have been a big believer that professional learning is changing and there is no better team to be making that change than DLTV. Co- committee member, Kynan Robinson, is also passionate about modern learning (you can read his blog post about the conference here) and we knew we wanted to offer something to our delegates that reflected that if professional learning is changing so is our conference but at the same time provide an environment where people feel confident and comfortable.

It was from this discussion the the concept of a self organising conference came from.  What if the presenters got together and designed their own conference? What if some presenters decided not to have a structured 45 minute presentation but a session that you move in and out of at your own pace? What if the presenters decided to  team up and present rather than repeating the same sessions? And that was the direction we took.

Rather than asking for abstracts, which never really made sense to me anyway, we put a call out for expressions of interests.  No particular focus, no boundaries, no making your presentation fit.  Instead we looked at what the presenters wanted to present on and grouped these to make streams. From here we put these presenters in contact with each other to organise how their stream would run for the two days.   In some streams this was as simple as organising the order of their presentations.  For others it gave the opportunity to start the planning of their presentations fresh and working together to develop streamlined sessions.  Some presenters decided to pair up and present together while others decided to finish the day with a  panel of all the presenters in that stream.

One stream even took it a step further and decided to create a gaming in education playground which ran around three learning experiences. Delegates who headed to the session could participate in learning through presentation, learning through play and learning through experience. It was such an exciting area of the conference to drop by to as people were making poetry with Lego, playing Mario Bros with the Makey Makey and of course the very popular old style console games.

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Along side the gaming stream was the Institute of the Modern Learner.  At first the IOTML was not clear. A card handed by a nameless man in a jacket. A tweet here and there with the hashtag #fixthefuture. And then they started to infiltrate the keynotes.  A slide in Adrian Camm’s keynote followed by more tweets claiming we didn’t see anything.  It certainly had the imagination going and made you feel like you were part of something but at the same time know nothing. “The institute” is looking for thinkers who may be discouraged with the system to experiment and trial modern learnering, as we found at the end of the conference when they took over the final keynote! For me it was a great moment when two presenters took over the stage and talked of their passion as it proved it really is a conference owned by the delegates and presenters.

There were many aspects of the conference that I am very proud of.  One of them was having four Victorian keynotes (3 of which were teachers in classrooms) who demonstrated why we are leading the way in education.   And as Narissa Leung, our afternoon keynote, told us, is why we have the best educators in the world and was happy that DLTV are celebrating that.  For too long now we have flown in educators when we have such high quality educators right here in Victoria.  This was certainly reiterated by the speakers themselves as they opened with a thanks to DLTV for finally putting Victorian Educators on the stage.

Also at conference after conference I have seen more and more male keynotes and it had continued to puzzle me as I know there are so many amazing female educators doing innovating learning and teaching in our schools.  It was great to get two of these females on stage at DLTV and they certainly showed that women in education are great speakers, innovative teaches and have so much to share.  Both Britt  Gow and Narissa Leung were articulate with their message for educational change, engaging and passionate and had the audience enthralled as they shared their narrative of digital learning and teaching. Of course our other keynotes Adriam Camm and Khoa Doh were also exceptional.  Adrian started the conference with a  provoking presentation which made us doubt what we knew but  at the same time make the audience feel like they could make change right now. As for Khoa Doh, the moment he finished speaking I thought crowd’s applause would never stop. It was a special moment in the conference, reminding us that not everything is about technology but from our stories and experiences we can learn so much.

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Another moving moment was when Roland Guesthuasen used Morse code to send a message to space for Maggie Iaquinto who had passed away the week before the conference.  Maggie was such an important member of the IT community and much loved by VITTA and ICTEV.  She had a remarkable history  and the news of her passing certainly put a sombre feeling across the office and committee.  It was fitting that Roland chose to send a message into space for Maggie as she was the first civilian to speak to cosmonauts on Mir.  Using her computer and radio she was able to connect with over 19 cosmonauts over a number of years, using the little Russian she knew to assist her.  Later she set up an amateur radio station at her school so her IT students could quiz space scientists about the technology used on-board Mir.

On reflecting on the conference there are so many highlights it is difficult to list them all.  Some are around the structure, like having 15 minutes between sessions to chat and network, while others were around people like seeing pre service teachers presenting in their first conference.  Of course, regardless of what you do at a conference you are always judged by the quality of your wifi and food.  And I am confident in saying that we nailed it! Our catering was spot on for the dreary Melbourne day and not once did I have any problems with the wifi.

As exhausted as I was after the conference, I was certainly reinvigorated by reading through the tweets and feedback from delegates.  It was such as great feeling having positive feedback to the small changes we had made and the hard work we put in to ensuring delegates were able to experience n the conference in a new and exciting way. So where to next year?  Well, there is plenty more to do!  Certainly some tweaking from this year; better maps to get around, rethinking the rooms and learning spaces and getting more students involved.  Well, best get planning I guess!

 

 

 

 

PLE Murder Mystery

On Thursday and Friday this week I was lucky enough to run two workshops at the PLE Conference held at Monash University.  The PLE Conference is a two day conference held in two cities, Melbourne and Berlin.  This year’s program, Personal Learning Environments: Learning and Diversity in the Cities of the Future, was full of presentations looking at the use of PLEs in education and examined the use of technology enhanced learning.

A PLE, or a Personal Learning Environment includes methods, tools, communities, and services constituting individual learning infrastructures or ecosystems which learners use to direct their own learning and pursue their learning goals.

The first workshop I did was a Murder Mystery.  Although I have never participated in a Murder Mystery dinner party I love the idea of immersing yourself in a character for an evening of mystery!  So I thought why not add that to a presentation.  I hoped that by placing the participants in different situations and looking at PLEs from different perspectives would help to make clear our understandings of PLEs and the different ways we use them.  In the session, participants were able to play the devils advocate and possibly the opportunity to play a role that went against their true beliefs of Personal Learning Environment.

The setting for the Murder Mystery was the launch of PLE – a new program that brings together different tools of collaboration, work flow and networking.  At the launch were a variety of people, some who loved the idea, others who felt a PLE should not be forced upon someone and of course those who were anti technology all together.  As part of the launch I shared a few of the tools which would appear as part of the make believe program’s suite of tools.

Unfortunately for Paula Louise Evans, the CEO of PLE, she was the victim of the afternoon and the other characters spent the rest of the session trying to determine the killer. Needless to say we all had a lot of fun.  The conference participants were wonderful getting in to their characters and there were many robust conversations about PLEs.

My second workshop looked at my Personal Learning Environment.  After having participants choose a photo that best represents their Personal Learning Environment, I used Richard Olsen’s White Paper, Understanding Virtual Pedagogies for Contemporary Teaching and Learning and the Collective Knowledge Construction Model to map some of the tools and networks I use as part of my PLE.

Then came the fun part as we used some craft materials to make a visualisation of our Personal Learning environment  It was really interesting to see the different ways people think of their PLEs.

I enjoyed being part of the conference and enjoyed the opportunity to see how others are using technology to enhance learning experience and enjoyed the opportunity to tackle questions such as what is the difference between personal and personalisation.  If you would like to check out any of the tweets for the conference you can do so with the Storifys of Day One and Day Two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am educator. I am me.

I have been thinking lately about how I conduct myself on social media.  After reading George Couros‘ blog post on Professional vs Private I reflected on my own use of social media.  I too have tended to separate my personal life which generally lives on Facebook and my professional life which predominantly lives in Twitter.  I don’t think I planned it this way but when I first started using Facebook I was travelling the world and wanted to share what I was doing to my antipodean family.  Twitter came a bit later and I was wearing my teaching hat when I fell into it.  Slowly, the lines between the two are starting to blend as my Twitter acquaintances become friends and my friends find Twitter.

I do believe that Facebook offers a false sense of security of privateness where as Twitter boldly puts everything into the public realm.  George stated that he is happy to have students follow him on Twitter as it is a completely public arena, whereas on Facebook he won’t ‘friend’ students.

I agree when he points out that although it is in the private section of Facebook we would be very naive to think it is always private.  It does make me wonder if Facebook too was as public as Twitter whether I would sepaprate the two as much.  Maybe I have learnt skills from Facebook that I use on Twitter?

Image: ‘Teaching the Toys
Found on flickrcc.net

I was recently given the advice that I need to draw a line between my professional life and personal life.  I took great offence to this. Education is personal to me.  Even as a young girl I would ‘play school’ with my Barbies, setting up my bedroom to look like my classroom and teaching them how to spell. And today it continues to invigorate me, comfort me, consume me.

I check twitter before I get out of bed in the morning.  I reply to emails or questions at the park on a Sunday. I walk past free postcards and I take a handful as they might come in handy for teaching writing one day. And I am not willing to draw a line between my personal and professional because it would tear me in half.

My  friends expect I am going to talk about learning over dinner  and my students get to know my friends through the stories I tell. I love that I can be there for people who care about the same things I do on Twitter and learn from them, the same as I do with friends I have grown up with.

Being an educator is who I am and I wouldn’t be whole without it.