So What’s Changed? – Reflections on Education.au Seminar

So what’s changed?

The experience of attending the Education.au seminar last friday was just fantastic, and for me ‘what’s changed?’ is a lot! I only got into blogging in May this year, after hearing a presentation of Stephen Abrams at a SirsiDynix Roadshow event in Melbourne in May. This presentation set my mind going on Web 2.0 – and was a neat follow up from being shown EPIC 2015. The context was set, and blogging began.

All the while I was reflecting about the learning environment of our schools, and realised that in blogging and reading blogs I was learning at a faster rate than I had ever done before – and enjoying it!

In a sense the Education.au Seminar showed what personalised learning is all about, and engagement with and through technologies is what kids are about. They are naturally moving into and around in this environment- but our education platform isn’t there yet. By getting into the blogging around this event we began to create a collaborative social network of our own educators – something we need to do much more of if we are to understand and create frameworks that empower our students. By becoming a blogger myself this year I am now able to operate differently in this environment and can create… where before I just knew that something was missing.

It is good that we have an organsation such as Education.au pushing the agenda here in Australia. We need more of these seminars. And I read with interest what Fang wrote about the evaluations. People that came to the seminar were in different headspaces – and for those that these technologies were ‘new’ or ‘newish’ I can well understand that they would have wanted clearer directions on ‘what next’ or ‘how to’. That’s our job too as we blog with each other, and in fact this heyjude blog was created just for the purpose of helping me learn and find out, and to help newbies along as well.

But some people need clearer help, and I did find a few months ago that running an ‘Introduction to Blogging’ course was a great experience for me! And people came along, keen to learn, but not quite ready to do it all alone. Two hours later lots of blogs were launched and some a going great guns. As it is with our students, we have to help learners learn!

I found the ideas covered in the seminar interesting, sometimes with conflicting opinions, but all part of the evolving dialogue. I had FUN. I met some great people. I heard some great ideas.

I found some of the concepts conveyed by Phillip Adams to be obvious for educators, but perhaps a bit novel for some of the others? It would be interesting to know really. But I couldn’t quite agree with the whole ‘media as a way of presenting a common agenda’ thing. I can’t see how warped or biased media, or conservative media or any other kind of controlled or semi controlled media is better than open communication of the blogosphere. It is not media that determines the quality of what is being presented. Didn’t media help create some of the most restrictive regimes in the world? Aren’t there still places in the world that try desperately to restrict freedom of speech in order to maintain some kind of social control?

So the new media of social software is here and is already influencing peoples ideas. I don’t believe it is any more dangerous than ‘traditional’ media ever was. What is dangerous, and has always been dangerous, is mass hysteria, mis-information, cultural bias, cultural chaos.

What I do agree with is the need for mediation, and learning to select, process, evaluate, and synthesise through knowledge and wisdom, based on strong, kind, ethical democratic values. We need to help our students to be caring and ethical, and to use knowledge wisely. I don’t believe traditional media is as good as Allan cracks it up to be. I think that is why the journalists created EPIC 2015 – they understood that the changing communcation landscape had huge implications for how people will engage with information with each other and around the globe.

I was thrilled to meet James Farmer, though I have to say that I hoped to hear more stuff from James. I think that his presentation was a good one in that it allowed those who were newish to these ideas come to understand the ‘stance’ that we need to take if we are going to re-focus our minds to working with Web 2.0 more fluently and effectively. It was important to talk about and promote Edublogs.org etc. James, thanks for all the work you have done on this. But I REALLY wanted to hear more innovation from James – but thats just me and where I am at with my own learning.

I was thrilled to meet all the other guys too, and to see the great team in action. I would love to be ‘up there’ with them all running and doing and managing and inspiring others.

FutureLab stuff was nice too – but I don’t get very excited about these types of global hookups. Anyone could have showed the videos (yes, they were cool!) and anyone could have read the words to match the slide. At the SIRSIDYNIX roadshow, we had a similar thing – a powerpoint designed by Stephen Abram, but presented by someone else. I got more out of that with a live presentation, than I did with bad lighting and a voice rattling off a content dense paper – even though I do know it was good and packed with information and ‘quotable quotes’.

In future, best to have a focus on the person – proper video conference stuff – or forget it! Anyway, I thought I was going to see a live person. Funny how we like our technology to work well, isn’t it?

At the end of it all, I am fascinated by the work that FutureLab is doing – but it is ‘way out there’ and really just points the direction rather than telling us how we NOW, right now can do things in school.

On that note I would have loved to hear from a real practitioner – grass roots stuff – talking about kids and how they and the teacher are using social networking tools to transform their learning and teaching.

How about that for another seminar?

Well done everyone! 🙂

summit.JPGI can’t wait to hear the next batch of presentations at the Global Summit 2006, and hope to meet some of the participants from this seminar there again.

If I can, I will be blogging live again! 😉

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