Sunday, 10 April 2011

PELC11 Day Three

One thing that has been mentioned to me is that I've missed out the Teach Meet at the end of the first day. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten, I just think it deserves it's own blog post because it was a bit of a milestone event for me. I'm taking a similar approach with something else I like to be involved with, and that's #ukedchat, which I'll talk about later. 

It does need a quick mention however, as it lead to a fantastic conversation I had with Russell Prue when I greeted him in the morning. The topic of #ukedchat on the eve of day two was 'What to do with colleagues who don't tech'. Knowing that Russell is a keen ICT evangelist, and particularly outspoken, I asked him his opinion and I was very glad I did. Sufficed to say, it was a subject he was clearly passionate about (which I could tell for reasons I won't go into!), and through the course of the conversation he really made me think about the wider issues involved, which was exactly what a good conversationalist should do. Pete Yeomans joined in had a similar point of view, echoing much of what Russell had already said, and between them they shared a lot that I found to be particularly insightful. Was an incredibly useful 10 minutes, and one of the things that stands out most from the entire conference.Russell also pointed me in the direction of and I suggest everyone else check it out too.

I would like to take the opportunity, whilst I'm talking about the last day, to say that Russell proved to be an incredibly influential figure during my time at PELC11, giving a lot of advice and feedback and really giving me a boost in confidence both professionally and personally when doing so. His outspoken and to-the-point opinions were exactly the sort of thing I can see a lot of student teachers finding engaging and entertaining in a world of roundabout ways of saying things, so I hope that at some point he can be convinced to get involved in some respect with the other students at the university.

Anyway, the first session I attended was by Lynn boyle (@boyledsweetie), the title of which was 'Creating a Community of Learners: Engaging Online Learners Online'. The title alone caight my eye, this is something that relates heavily to the Student Teacher Resource - creating a community online. The seminar was about how Lynn used Adobe Connect to host a 'webinar' with her students to discuss any issues, which occurred on a weekly basis at the same time (the Monday Surgery). She mentioned that up to 70% of students didn't want to show their face, a barrier that with the STR project we are hoping to breach - more anonymous comments means less fear when asking for help. One quote I took away was that 'Current online learninv relies too heavily on self-instructional text, failing to promote human interaction'. After the seminar, I managed to have a chat with Lynn about the STR project, and have potentially made a link with Dundee University to get their students involved too. Seeing as the theme of my day three summary seems to be gratitude, I'd like to thank Lynn for the feedback and the webinar is a concept I think could be merged with the ukedchat concept to create something that would provide great benefit to student teachers.

The other part of this session was from Steve Wheeler and Manish Malik entitled 'Of Cloud Learning Environments, Personal Learning Environments and Virtual Learning Enviroments: A Student Perspective'. Whilst I think that the ideals presented at the beginning and the discussion of the various areas of learning via Web 2.0 technologies were useful, but I think that there is a problem limiting students to a single set of apps, in this case Google Apps, to use in their PLE. I'm in no way choosing Microsoft over Google or anything, I just think that the achieve a true PLE, students must make their own choices in the software that they use.

The final keynote speech was from Shelly Terrell, entitled 'Causing Ripples: Education transformation through social media'. It was basically about how social media can be used by educators and students alike to share their ideas, their successes and their failures. This was something that resonated with me personally and professionally - I'm very open with sharing the things I have, and with the Student Teacher Resource, I am aiming to provide a new way for students to share their ideas. The presentation was endlessly quotable, for which I will be very thankful in my next few essays, I'm sure! One website that she introduced that is worth a look is The most important part that I took away was towards the end - she posed the question 'How do convey your message effectively?', dividing the question into 'Who is your audience?', 'Is it visually appealing?', 'What stories and examples do you share?' and I think most importantly of all, 'Does it convey your passion?'

Finally, the conference came to a close with a panel discussion, unfortunately the subject of which I was unable to note down because my old tablet PC decided to run out of juice. Ashamed to bring paper and pen to an elearning conference, I sat at the back reading through the comments on Twitter and speaking to Russell and Dan Roberts at the back of the room, which was highly entertaining I must admit! One of the more hilarious highlights of the conference was the fact that Dan (@chickensaltash) managed to break the terms and conditions of Twitter by tweeting too much, too often, and got served with a short ban. He evidently did not learn his lesson, as he got hit with another ban a day later. My twitter stream was an awful lot quieter (and less entertaining) without his presence. One quote I did take away from the panel was from Pete Yeomans (@ethinking) who said 'If you aren't making them uncomfortable, you aren't doing it right', which I thought was a definite Yeomans-ism!

I managed to chat to Shelly afterwards and thanked her for the keynote, mentioning that I've created something that I drew a lot of inspiration from it that I can apply to our project. It was great to speak to someone so influential and Shelly was very friendly and approachable. We had a brief chat about Edchat, going back to my participation in #ukedchat the day before, which she was involved in the creation of. It was great to speak to someone so enthusiastic and passionate about what they do, really inspirational person.

When I finally got home, I noticed that Shelly was hosting a webinar on using mobile phones in the classroom, which I thought would be quite interesting, so I attended. She used Adobe connect to talk to the room and i thought she generated some great ideas to use in the classroom. Unfortunately, Mr Gove would have very different ideas, but I would rather not voice political opinions (no matter how agreeable!) on my blog.

One final point of note - I've only been on Twitter for a few months now, and although I could see the benefit from the consumer side of things, I never really experienced the to-ing and fro-ing that goes on once you get more involved. This week at PELC11 has given me a great chance to do just that, and I am now using Twitter more than Facebook. Whilst I've been at work since 10am, I managed to checked Twitter on my phone to find this mention...

If you don't know me, I'm a pretty modest person, so for someone to give me such a comment is quite flattering - Thank you! Hope you don't mind that I mention you in one of my 'great reads', Alex. If anyone does want to get in touch, by all means leave a comment below, or contact me via Twitter (@JCBarrington)

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