After months of anticipation and excitement the Learning 2.0 conference is now officially Learning 2.0ver (yes – I am hilarious, I know. Read on). My head is a whirlwind of scattered thoughts, fresh ideas and unanswered questions. Overall I would not say that I found this conference to be completely transformative. It definitely wasn’t the religious experience that some people are making it out to be! However, it was certainly worthwhile and I’m grateful I attended. My eyes were opened in a few different and entirely unpredictable ways. If anything, this conference has definitely refueled my motivation to continue with what I am doing and find ways to improve it. I was feeling quite burnt out before I left, but now I have found renewed energy thanks to the support and advice from my international colleagues. It has also reassured me that I work at one of the best schools in Asia as our level of digital infusion far surpasses the majority of those I have encountered thus far.
I was initially surprised, however, that at a conference that attracted me based on its technology focus, I learned almost nothing new about technology. In fact, there were sessions I went to where we didn’t even use a digital device. The chart paper, markers and post-it notes came out in full force! In one workshop we even had a newspaper fashion show. As it turns out, the focus of this conference was more about the “big ideas”, than the tools we use to explore them. Although some teachers or technology specialists may have been disappointed that they didn’t learn exactly how to make a movie or link MOODLE to Mahara, what I didn’t realize until now is that, whether intentionally or not, this conference brilliantly and unexpectedly exemplified exactly what we need to be doing with our students. It’s not about content delivery.
“Kids, you have a new textbook – it’s called Google”
has been retweeted multiple times. Think about it – why would I go all the way to Beijing to learn how to create a Workshop in MOODLE? Any one of us have the ability to go on the internet and research the ins and outs of iMovie. What we need the conference for is all the stuff we can’t do alone such as have rich, active discussions with other teachers that open our minds and force us to question our practice. This conference was a new type of professional learning experience. We weren’t lectured for three hours in extended sessions. We were forced to participate and we had to be social. These are the two things I usually avoid like the plague at conferences. I couldn’t escape this time otherwise the whole three days would have been a complete waste. There was no passive transfer of information from leader to delegate happening during these workshops. The learning was active. It was, as one teacher put it, “hard fun.” My brain was completely drained by the end of each day. I was impressed with the way the presenters of the sessions tried to practice what they preach. The greatest value for me and the deepest learning came out of informal discussions and facilitated sharing sessions. I was able to connect with people I never would have had the chance to meet. But I also got to pick the brains of my colleagues and friends, which was one of the more rewarding aspects for me. I love that I get to work with such passionate and intelligent individuals that constantly challenge me to rethink my beliefs. Thanks @brendandcoreyb, @singexplorer, Sunny and Justin. I felt that most of the conference mirrored what our classrooms should be like – interconnected, global, social, dynamic, contextual, flexible, challenging, interesting, and fun.
In the next blog post I will explore the “big ideas” as I see them, that resonated with me the most during the conference.
Image URL: http://innovationuniverse.com/2011/08/28/what-makes-big-idea-elusive-%E2%80%93-the-pain-of-growth/