I've spent the past three days at the Plymouth e-Learning Conference 2011. I initially planned to write about all three days in a single post, but I just don't think I would be able to effectively convey the amount I got out of the conference. So here is my PELC11 experience day by day!
Firstly, I arrived with one of the volunteers from the Student Teacher Resource to help set up not only our stand, but the conference exhibition space too. The first new face I introduced myself to was the person running the fantastic stand next to ours - Russell Prue (@russellprue), who was promoting his school radio system (http://www.andertontiger.com/default.htm) and streaming live radio and interviews from the event. From the first few minutes of conversation with Russell, I'd already picked up some invaluable tips on conference etiquette and presentation, and his useful feedback and vibrant conversation became one of the highlights of the conference over the next few days
On the stand to the other side of us on the first day was Gill from GCSEPod. Their product was a set of downloadable revision podcasts to help with GCSE revision, which was very interesting and I can imagine is very effective. GCSEPod were kind enough to fund nibbles for the Teach Meet later on in the day.
Amongst other notable people that I talked to during the first half of the day were two I already knew, my lecturer Pete Yeomans (@ethinking) and Professor Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth), who was organising the event. I also finally managed to put a face to the twitter name when I met Dan Roberts (@chickensaltash), Deputy Head at Saltash.net Community School. These are all people who have already proved valuable in my professional development and I hope I can get involved with any of their projects in the future.
Dan Roberts was hosting the event that i attended next - the Student Showcase. Children were invited to come along and show off what they had been doing with technology in schools, and the results were fantastic. To be fair to the staff on the stand, we swapped around looking after the stand and going into the seminar, so unfortunately I missed some of the presentations. I did, however, see the AMAZING (and I mean AMAZING) work done by the students at Broadclyst Community Primary on their BTV channel. The students record, edit and publish their own TV programmes related to their work. It's obviously made a difference to the confidence of the children too - seeing them present and talking to them afterwards was a real treat.
Next up was the e-safety panel discussion hosted by Steve Wheeler and presented by Simon Finch (@simfin, http://simfin.wordpress.com/about/), Dan Roberts (@chickensaltash) and Dan Kennedy (@djkennedy), an ICT teacher at The Grange School in Christchurch. The panel presented some of the key issues and misconceptions about esafety and tried to present their solutions. As a student teacher, I found it very useful to see these issues being discussed, as I have yet to be so involved in school life and ICT that I've run into the problems, so to know the solution before they arise will be very useful. I do wish, however, that someone had played the devil's advocate, even if it wasn't their own decision, as this would most likely have generated a more lively debate.
Finally, the day ended with the keynote speech from Jane Seale, who discussed digital inclusion and exclusion, provocatively titled 'Technology doesn't exclude learners, teachers do: A critique of the nature and scope of digital practices within our education system that include or exclude marginalised learners'. Having just completed a module with a focus on inclusion and exclusion in the classroom, I felt that this was almost the culmination of the research and work I have done in the past few months. I'd already had the opportunity of a session with Jane Seale during the course of the module, so this followed on nicely too. Was fairly interesting to see Jane being pushed into joining Twitter at the end of the session too - she can now be followed at @janeseale.
Overall, I think the confidence I gained by introducing the Student Teacher Resource to positive response and feedback was incredible. Not only that, but the experience of networking with some of the most important figures in eLearning will be vital for the future. I'll be posting my updates on days two and three, as well as my experience at my first teachmeet, as soon as my time allows!