Include, Inquire, Inspire.
The Learning 2 Europe conference hashtag and catchphrase have been running through my mind since it finished two days ago. The conference may have ended, but the ideas generated and connections made will hopefully last beyond the 3 day event.
A Chance to Play with AppleClips:
I had very high hopes for this year’s conference at ASW in Poland after an unforgettably high energy L2 conference last year in Milan. Last year’s learning curve was steep—I was not yet in my current role as Ed Tech Coach, and so much of what I learned and took in was brand new (to me). I attended a wide range of sessions, joined every social opportunity and networked like crazy. I was in awe of people’s experiences, connections and skills.
This year, as part of my Personal Learning Plan to challenge myself, and to support my final project inquiry into e-portfolios, I volunteered to lead a teacher workshop on Seesaw.
The conference started with a great session on ePortfolios and documenting learning by Kimberly House. Now, I have been living and breathing e-portfolios this last year and a half and what was brand new and inspiring last year, was more like review and affirmation this year. It was great to be in the session with my colleagues from the High School and the benefits of the opportunity to hear their perspectives and to develop shared language and understandings cannot be understated.
Learning 2 has the fabulous tradition of hosting its ‘extended session leaders’ on the stage over the 3 days to deliver a series of Ted-style key note talks. A-mazing. One talk was given by a High School student, Nico who explained delved into Einstein’s quote on why ‘imagination is more important than knowledge.’ Josefino Rivera, who specialises in training students to deliver Ted Style talks, insisted we teachers must ‘walk the walk’ we expect of our students. John Mikton convinced me of my moral responsibility to model responsible device use in front of my students and children.
Another great aspect of the Learning 2 conference is the cohorts. I joined a technology leader cohort (there were 3!) to find like-minded people to learn with and from. This year, L2 challenged us to come up with cohort hashtags and memes. At our first session, we discussed the sometimes random and confusing nature of our job titles and tasks. This resulted in our never-ending ticker tape response to #WhatIDoAllDay, encapsulated in film, and 360 degree camera:
My extended sessions (‘Change Makers’ with Sonya terBord and Hosting a Ted Ex Club/Event with Josefino Rivera) were thought provoking and informative, although perhaps not as hands on as my sessions last year (physically re-arranging a classroom and learning to program a variety of robots are hard to beat in terms of immediate, hands-on learning.) I don’t think I walked away with as many new tools or skills or ‘I’m gonna do this Monday” kind of thing as I did last year. Although I do plan on using this animation lesson using TED ed: lessons worth sharing one of these Mondays (I host a Digital Design After School club on Monday.)
Another fabulous aspect of L2 are the unconferences—random meetings of like minds interested in discussing what is immediately relevant and of interest. My first unconference I joined the Maker Space in the library and ‘hacked’ my conference badge by figuring out how to complete a circuit in order to light up an LED. The next day I discussed the addictiveness of the new Serial produced podcast series, ‘S town’ (I half wrote this post and half listened to the podcast on my journey home) and compared and contrasted our respective school’s tech integration model with someone sitting next to me on the couch. Fabulous.
I think ultimately my biggest learning was leading my own workshop on Seesaw. Public speaking/presenting is the single most dreadful experience in my #firstworldproblem kind of existence. I’m terrified of it-but this terror was what made me skip lunch, lose sleep and work extra hard to make sure I knew my s—. My session had a great turnout and people had great questions and I actually knew the answer to most of them. Many were self-proclaimed ‘converts’ after my session. My Seesaw ambassadorship and Coetail forced me out of my comfort zone and insisted that I give back and share.
One of my main conference take-aways, however was actually not from any of the sessions/unconferences/workshops or speeches, but simply the connections made (and hopefully maintained and kept…) Madeline Brookes’ #BaconNumber talk alludes to the power of connections.
There is so much value that comes from the opportunity, time and space to connect with colleagues from around the around the world (and from my own school!) The power of meeting your teaching idols is great, but one can’t beat those conversations with emotional impact on the path to ‘finding your tribe.’