Weekly Reflection: #ICOT2013 Takeaways

Conference Takeouts
A different kind of takeaways (image by author)

Leave your clever at home –  Conference presentations are often a great opportunity to highlight something successful that you’ve undertaken which can be applied to my class. But what is more awesome is when you talk about the difficulties and outright  failures as a result of changing the way you do things. That way when us mere mortals listening to your implement ideas in our own class, we’ll know that we are going to have a few weeks of chaos during the implementation phase and it’s probably going to suck.

Embrace the messiness of learning –   Yes I am one of those people conference organisers love to hate as I frequently didn’t show up to the sessions I booked. All of a sudden the person who sends out awesome tweets seems like a far more interesting and engaging option than a world-renowned expert I just had to see three months ago.  Likewise a serendipitous meeting during drinks or on a plane or even a recommendation from someone else might see me wandering into different rooms.

Technology shouldn’t be used to replicate what we’ve always done – Twitter is like passing notes in class only way more awesome. While tweeting out quotable quotes from presentations and keynotes is good for those not attending the event to get a small window into the conference, more importantly twitter gives passive listeners a chance to respond to speakers in real time. Instead of sitting in a keynote silently seething at ideas I felt were wrong, I used twitter to connect with other attendees to respond to the ideas being pushed by the speaker. Post-conference drinks were easily organised by just tweeting out a time and place.

Collaboration makes things so easier –  At the start of each keynote I watched as the twitter fairies came in and starting adding background information and links to other sessions on the keynote google doc making it look I had done far more work than simple note-taking. Bonus points go to the presenters and speakers who were using social media to connect with speakers before, after and during sessions. Could there be a conference wiki for people to add resources to one main point?

Make learning visible – From my own experience I know that students want to know what ‘good’ looks like, they borrow ideas. Do our current information systems, which are based on one account per child, actually achieving this? Is cybersaftey killing learning opportunities by keeping kids atomised even within their own class? Do we give multiple ways for kids to demonstrate learning new concepts outside of writing it down?

The importance of play – We know that sit down lectures are actually a really inefficient way to learn yet how much of conference is spent sitting around listening to lectures? What if the conference speakers flipped their instruction or had learning tasks for the audience to complete? What if conferences were more like school?

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