I’ve just attended the ICT education conference in Thurles, Ireland, affectionately known by the locals as the ‘Trip to Tipp’. I ran a one-day Learning Design workshop on Friday, with about 16 participants. There was lots of interaction and great discussions. The conference was held on Saturday with teachers from across Ireland attending. There were three keynotes – me, Catherine Cronon and Martha. The rest of the day was taken up by four parellel sessions. The junior minister for Training and Skills Cairon Connon gave an excellent talk at the beginning of the conference. It was clear that he had a passion for education and saw technologies as potentially having an transformative impact. It is a shame that more ministers and policy makers don’t attend these kind of conferences. I was particularly impressed that he stayed for a significant amount of the conference.
Catherine Cronin’s keynote resonated well with the conference theme, she explored the concept of student voice and experience. She posed the question ‘How can we use ICT to facilitate a paradigm shift and enable learners to be creative users of technology?’ She traced the latter back to the work of J. Kozol in the early nineties, in terms of student voice: sound, presence, participation, power and agency. She showed a wonderful video created by a young student in Kinvara, with students talking about their preferred ways of learning (active, collaborative, group-based, inquiry-based. etc.) and what they didn’t like about school. It made me realise yet again how important the student voice is, and that we really need to rethink current restrictive educational practices and focus more on making learning engaging and meaningful. She also referenced Bonnie Stewart and Howard Reingold’s work on digital identity.
It was great to meet Joe Dale who I follow on Twitter and as is often the case I felt as if I had known him for years. The highlight of the conference for me was probably his session on audio tools and Apps. He gave us a whistle stop tour demonstrating how to record and play back audio; lots of great things to explore. After the session I recorded him giving a summary of the session, using one of the tools he mentioned, Audioboo. Tools he demonstrated included: vacoroo, audioboo, qr code, croak.it, cue prompter tele script, audacity and soundcloud. More details are available at: Joedale.typepad.com.
The conference had a Youth Media Team, who did a series of sessions with presenters. They live blogged these, along with pictures and their impressions of the conference. In the closing session, they reported back on their experience and showed a short visual presentation representing the conference. I was very impressed with them and it was lovely to hear their feedback. What particularly struck me was one of them saying that there was probably an App for anything you could find in a book!
So overall an excellent conference and a great bunch of people. Thanks to Pam O’Brien for the invitation!