Wednesday, March 28, 2007

ECIS IT: A significant IT conference

Having just returned from the ECIS IT07 conference held at the International School Dusseldorf I am spending time reflecting on the significant issues this event has raised. In essence educators do want to be using technology and online resources but they do not feel confident, they do not feel capable of leading the way, and they do not feel convinced that the extra effort needed from them personally to be blogging, wikiing, etc is going to improve their classroom or their students' outcomes. At the same time there is this ongoing feeling of needing to maintain control over the education process, over the students, over their own resources (many educators will not share their resources). Until this need for control is broken down, either through proactive policies, approaches to PD etc. I feel that progress in most schools towards 21st century ideals is going to be slow.

With delegates from across Europe, the USA and beyond there was a true international feel and spirit to the sessions and workshops. Thanks also goes to organiser, Pat D'Arcy, Head of IT at ISD, for the excellent organisation of all conference events, including the social dinners and river cruise (along the Rhine River!).

If you peruse the conference program you will find a variety of presentations and workshops were offered. The Moodle sessions were a great opportunity for us to learn from Steve Druggan (Munich International School) and Chad Fairey (American School of Paris) about their individual school implementations. We were also given 'sandbox' access to iSkoodle, the ECIS moodle.

The sessions that I presented on Web 2.0 and Wkis in education were very well attended. I was impressed with the level of interest in creating wikis amongst the educators and pleased with the positive responses to the focus I gave which was to use wikis to support learning and to collaborate. One question during the wiki session: What is the fundamental difference between a wiki and using Moodle? One answer from a fellow attendee: A wiki provides for student as well as teacher controlled content and therefore more student-centred learning opportunities whereas a Moodle environment is essentially teacher controlled.

I also co-presented with Chris Chater from the American School of Paris on podcasting in the classroom. Chris has a wealth of experience with practical podcasting and is coming from a music background that includes using audio as a tool. He has an elementary school level podcasting group called the Paris Pod Pups, well worth a look as it is totally student directed. I was able to learn a lot from Chris and his use of free sofware to record, edit and manipulate recordings. More information about the conference and then podcasting sessions can be found on the conference blog.

The two keynote speakers were Seth Ruef from the
International School Luxumbourg and Barbara Stefanics from Vienna International School. Seth's keynote summary and podcast show how he sees teaching and the role of IT in this ever complicated world. I suggest you listen to the podcast as at the end he recites a poem about being a teacher that is quite captivating both in its delivery and its message.

Here are the photos I took while in Dusseldorf as a slideshow on

A street in the area of the conference (suburb of Dusseldorf)

Julie and Chris at ECIS

Chris, Seth, Barbara and Laura in Dusseldorf

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