Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to attend an ACEL conference held at the University of Wollongong (a hour and half drive from Sydney). This conference, around the theme of Tech-savvy Leadership and Learning, drew a good crowd. It was impressive to see a large number of attendees from the Department of Education Schools, who attended as part of an exercise in creating knowledge networks who could continue learning about innovation with ICT during the year.
The keynote speakers included key researchers from the University of Wollongong, who shared their work and their perspectives on learning in a digital age. I always appreciate hearing about research, as this adds significant value to our more anecdotal reflections on day-to-day classroom happenings. We test, experiment, play, get creative with pedagogy and researchers help us prove we are on the right track!
However, a number of us chatted between sessions, the more digitally savvy, social network connected attendees, and we were a little troubled by some statements made about social networking and digital learning. Some of the ‘push’ of the conference was ICT, PD, and the horrors of cyberbullying. For those coming new to new media, they needed to hear about the power of personal learning networks – but I’m afraid I might have been the only one to mention this.
One keynote speaker actually stated that ‘you can’t make friends via social networks like Facebook’. I shook my head, and wondered about all the wonderful professional contacts I have made via social networks – and the excitement in meeting them eventually F2F – building on professional respect, collaboration, sharing of resources and more.
This is not a new outcome at conferences – we are starting to see a digital divide emerging in that some people believe they can talk about and research digital learning environments and social networking without actually being active participants in that world! I like to see keynote speakers who can share their online digital identities with us, and prove to me that they really do understand the architecture of participation that is learning in our new century.
Nevertheless, it was a fabulous day. The attendees were very enthusiastic as far as I could tell. Thank you to Julie Reynolds, Principal of Cedars Christian College, who invited me to present a session at this ACEL conference. Julie’s enthusiasm, and that of her staff, was so wonderful. They are really working hard to make their school 21C friendly!
I guess what I tried to say in my presentation is to remind people that passion as to drive our connections – and that we cannot operate effectively in working with technology without social networking. I believe that PD is NOT the single answer – creating connections and promoting a shift in our mindsets is even more important. In fact, without flexibility, experimentation, collaboration, and innovation driven by our dialogue ‘with the crowd in the cloud’ it must might all be for nothing.
There is not much you can say in an hour – not really! So it was very nice to have people take the time to come and chat afterwards and say that they felt inspired to try! That’s the key thing – try – and the rest will take care of its self.
Here are my slides!
For those who visited earlier, thanks to @slideshare for fixing the embed problem. Twitter teams are the frontline of service!