I’ve recently had the fortune to attend major technology in education two conferences in the space of a week that featured Keynote’s from such high-profile educators as Stephen Heppell, Gary Stager, Mark Treadwell and Mark Prensky. As interesting as these were however, I’m not going to write about them here. I can probably post links to the podcasts at some stage, but what doesn’t necessarily get captured on video at these conferences is what the attendees themselves revealed about just where educators are at in this ‘time between times’ – before mobile and ubiquitous computing becomes the invisible norm, but after a time when we could sit back and wait for the digital revolution to pass on by.
So what did I observe?
Firstly, that pedagogy and learning can still be outshone by shiny technology. I saw educators flirting with software and hardware vendors rather than asking ‘where’s the research for that?’.
Secondly, that paper and pens are still ahead as notetaking tools of choice for educators, but only just. Despite one lady failing to bring a notepad or pen as “every conference always gives you free notepaper and pens”, the ratio I observed has improved to about 50:50 between pen and paper and laptops and smartphones. In fact, at both conferences, I had people comment to me that they’d never seen so many laptops at a conference. And there were a lot, at least 50% of attendees I observed were using laptops or smartphones to record their notes. Why the other 50% are even attending a technology in education conference yet still recording everything in un-taggable and un-searchable or un-sharable paper notepads (especially when at least several digital pen options are now available) is …
Thirdly, that just as the Horizon report moves mobile technology into the ‘one year or less’ zone of implementation for education, the promise of anywhere, anytime learning is starting to be taken seriously in my corner of the world. There were at least two sessions around this topic at each conference, and not only was a significant proportion (15%) of educators I observed using mobile devices to enhance their own learning, but many of them are also thinking now about how to catch up to where students are already at in this area.
Lastly, if you do want to see what the connected learners at each of these conferences were thinking and recording, many of them did actually capture it themselves. The fascinating and infinitely useful results can be found by conducting a twitter search for the tags #IWBnet09 or #SC09expo ! Enjoy.