Should every conference have a ‘disrupt strand’ #learning2

Just back from a wonderful learning2 experience. Rather than go the usual route of attending workshops, I took the road less travelled and spent my time attending the disrupt strand. 

Going into the conference, I had no idea how this experience would pan out. There were some awesome educators who I like to interact with online (and away from the keyboard too) in attendance. Secretly, I was concerned that putting a room full of like-minded teachers together in a room would serve as nothing more than an educational echo chamber.

Instead there was

  • Robust discussion about the future of learning with plenty of push and pull between participants
  • Collaboration on task
  • Researching ideas with other teachers and students
  • Presenting to peers both in the workshop and having them judge the worthiness of my idea
  • Getting way out of my comfort zone by putting those ideas up on the big stage

It turned the conference experience for me from a talkfest to dofest – after attending way too many educational conferences and unconferences I’ve realised how conferences have become in Sam Sherratt’s words an educational mould.

Select workshops based on who is presenting or what is on offer – learn a tool, or think about an idea and then go back to school with a vague notion of implementing something and then maybe sharing the results a few months down the track.

Conferences still have their use – I’ve come away with ideas to use, but never gone through the process of carefully thinking about which ideas are worthy of implementation and how I could implement them.

Which is why I wonder shouldn’t every conference have a ‘disrupt’ strand?

Why do organisers leave the process of implementing ideas learned at conference to chance rather than giving time and space for participants to:

  • share ideas from conference they are thinking of implementing
  • develop a plan of what they want to achieve and how they plan to achieve the plans
  • get feedback on their ideas from peers and students
  • share their actions with others


Cross Post: Digital story telling – #coetail


My immediate reaction on this week’s topic of digital story telling:

(Image via  tumblr)

According to the Educause Learning Initiative digital storytelling is

“the practice of combining narrative with digital content, including images, sound, and video to create a short movie, typically with a strong emotional component.”

(Image by gifwave)

And then I realised that was the name for all those goofy videos I make of the children I teach (when I get the time)

In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I  think all teachers should be digital story tellers. In-class video can be a rich source of data for both future teaching and is so much more valuable for parents to see what really goes on in class.

For example of the types of videos I make here’s an example from the 3E conference I attended at the International School of Ho Chi Minh City last weekend.

I used final cut pro to put the footage (about 30 minutes worth) together.

A clear beginning, middle and end. The head of school’s voice set the scene with images of the classroom before the children arrived of what the aim of the day was but the likely course of events. The middle where the ‘deconstructed day’ took place and then a reminder of the intention of the day at the end.

Some drama – as the children were given their task I spotted a little girl freaking out at the prospect of putting together a computer without any adult help. I let the camera linger on her as I knew she was someone to go back to later in the day. I then used her reflection as a bookend for the day.

A clear focus on the learning story – how groups use physical space, research was something I felt was an important part of the day. I also looked for footage that showed how some groups were stealing ideas from others and the reasons for this.

Video provides a way for parents to get a true window in the classroom and is useful as a reflection point for children. Often what kids think happened is very different from their behaviour on screen. There were a lot of attitudes that I could unpack as a teacher – the initial response to having ‘nothing’ on the timetable, what collaboration looks like, emotional responses to challenges that would provide future teaching points.

from Teaching the Teacher

Links you should be reading…

Look Down a parody to Look up

In the same vein what we should be talking not googling but the official rules on toddler screen time have been revised.

The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland meanwhile American preschoolers have lockdown drills.

For those about to enter the job hunt – how not to be a networking leech/

Why it’s so hard to find typos

And the big announcement this week – Mars water!

The rule of daily writing #cenz15

At the end of last year I noticed I hadn’t been posting much on the blog. There were a huge number of posts languishing in draft form. Half-written, half-thought ideas, that I never finished and as a result were never commented on and refined.

This year I made a resolution that no matter what was happening in my life, I would publish a blogpost a day. 

There days that I was busy.

There were days I was completely uninspired.

There days  I was sick.

274 days later, I learned something.

Most of what I write is mediocre. A lot of it is really, really bad.

However, there is 5% which is really good.

And the funny thing about that 5%?

It often happens on the days when I have no idea what to write about.

However because I’ve put myself on thus daily publishing schedule, I’ve given myself this creative constraint to get all those half thought ideas out there and eventually all those half thought ideas become something awesome.

Writing on the Internet is something I enjoy doing. However for those joining the journey this connected educator month, my advice is simple.


Not every piece of writing you do is going to be amazing.

In fact, a lot if it won’t be.

But by getting into the habit of sharing, you will eventually share your something awesome.