It has been almost a year since I went to the ACEC Conference in Melbourne – an amazing three days where I went from being an ICT enthusiast to being part of a bigger movement – to be inspired to be one of the enablers of ICT change.
On one level, I can look back at the year and say not much has happened in my own personal context. Perhaps it’s been a failure. Teachers at my school are teaching 1:1 classrooms, but are experiencing problems with battery life, slowness of the Windows machines. They are also applying old pedagogies to new technology – have students use the laptops as an exercise book, copying notes, answering comprehension questions. And not a lot has changed about the way most staff approach technology and project based learning is far from being a reality. For this, I have wondered whether the context of my attendance is partially responsible. After all, I really went because I was able to get accommodation and I wanted an excuse to go to Melbourne for a week. It wasn’t a part of a greater plan to have all the schools of our region being empowered by my wisdom.
This would be an overly negative perspective to have, however. To me, looking back, ACEC was a consciousness raising venture that I could apply to my own approach to ICT over my whole career, not just a year. In the past year, I have completed in e-review for my English faculty, outlining how the faculty could use elearning strategies by marrying existing programs with the technology. It was a review designed for the next 3 – 5 years, not the next few months. It assiduously avoided applications that I believe are short term fads (Xtra Normal, stand up) and instead looked at applications that will still be relevant to the aims of the faculty in the years to come.
It also showed me exactly why portable technology is the answer to many teacher dilemmas and questions – flip cameras, the ipod touch (at the time) – easy to use, easy to apply technology is easier for teachers and students to use. I recently thrust a flip camera into the hand of a teacher who had never used a camera in the classroom before – by the end of the day I had plenty of usable footage of her classroom for an open day video I was making. There, on a big screen, were her shots of her class engaging with computers and reading their poems for people to see. Next step for her may well be to have students include flip camera footage into projects and portfolios – she certainly felt empowered by her brush with the wonders of flip.
I’m also finding that when little steps are needed to make teachers’ tech lives easier and more varied, I have been able to not only help them to use the tools, but explain why it’s useful. And those moments come at random times. It’s all part of a long term, organic process, I’m discovering. Our e-learning co-ordinator is now picking my brain on how to use Twitter for student and staff engagement, which will be the next step in the skills I gained from ACEC being useful for something.
In the end, it’s still my PLN that is the best thing I gained from ACEC, and seeing the power and usefulness of Twitter. Before ACEC, I felt a bit isolated and alone. Now I don’t – I have a group of people I can rely on for help and resource links. And moral support. And Twitter – well, I barely used it before ACEC. Now, Twitter has taken me places and shown me things I could only dream about. Mind you, the staff at my school don’t get Twitter yet. They still ask “how do you have time”, not knowing that they could get a load of information by being on for as little as 10 minutes. That understanding may happen. Or not. I’m now not as concerned as I once was – paradigm change like that really is a process, not an outcome that is easily ticked off.