My school have just approved a team of 5, including me, to attend NECC in San Antonio! I am doubly excited. NECC is still my absolute favourite conference, and now I can share it with my immediate colleagues. I am also doubly, doubly (??) excited as I am reading international blogs and finding others who are 'online friends' who are also making the trip this year such as Jo McLeay and Judy O'Connell.
However, planning and running a conference is no mean feat and we are just starting to look at what we can do here in Qatar in 12-18 months time in terms of bringing in consultants and educators who can inspire and take our school and others in Doha on a fast trip to a further change in mindset. I came across Mark Wagner's blog post today, What's your ideal educational technology conference?
Mark is helping develop a conference in California and asks these questions:
- If you were on the conference planning committee, what theme would you suggest for Fall 2008? (I’d love to hear why, too.)
- What keynote speakers would you most like to see? (And while the speakers from 2006 and 2007 are among my favorites, we won’t be having any repeats… so I’m looking for new ideas.)
- Imagine you’re a classroom teacher in a middle or high school (unless you actually are - then no imagining necessary)… what do you want most from a technology conference?
We are pondering the same questions here in Qatar as we move towards supporting 21st century learning with mobile computing and online learning. Here are some ideas:
Theme: Learning has no walls
Why?: De-teching needs to start with the title, let's not separate technology from learning but keep it all the same, let's encourage ALL educators to come. Also, let's broaden the scope and bring the outside world in and encourage the participants to reach/look out of their own windows and beyond their own walled environment.
Keynotes: Speakers who are patient with the technophobes but also inspiring to the early adopters who are keen to do more; speakers who not only talk about lofty ideals but can 'get their hands dirty' with practical advice and be able to workshop tools as required; speakers who represent an international approach (this is SO important). My personal favourites include David Warlick, Gary Stager, Joyce Valenza....however there are a number of emerging (or already emerged) stars who have so much to offer and just need a push onto the international keynote stage such as Jeff Utecht, Judy O'Connell, Vicki Davis, Kim Cofino, Terry Freedman........
What do I/we want from a tech conference: I want it not to be about technology, the same as I want our Heads of Department meeting at school to not be about organisation and paperwork..but about pedagogy and learning!! I want to be able to pick up tips and tricks and new tools in a fun way but the main focus must be on how to support learning and improve outcomes and engage students. I want to feel excited about what is being presented so that I cannot wait to get back to the classroom and implement new ideas and find ways to rework curriculum that is valid but needs 'modernizing'. I want to learn more about how to create a student-centered learning environment and how to convince and educate my school administration that this is the way of the future.
So, what do you think about educational technology conferences? Learning without labels...now there's another idea!
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