#LWF11 Festival of Learning & Technology: My Best Of

I recently had the great opportunity to attend the Learning Without Frontiers ‘festival of learning and technology’ in the UK in January of this year. The conference itself had three streams of Handheld learning, Game based learning, and digital safety. I of course had been interested mostly in attending the handheld learning sessions, but it was in fact the lineup of amazing short talks (what we used to call ‘Keynote’s in a pre-TED talks world) that ended up having the most impact on my thinking.

(Collage created in Moxier Collage on iPad)
So, I’d like to share here which of these talks I found the most inspiring, and hope they may provide the great start to your year that they did to mine: (I’ll include direct viewing links as well as links to download the podcasts via iTunes).
Iris Lapinski – Apps for Good, a problem solving program for young people that leads to their apps being created using Android. Features students themselves talking about the project.
Theo Gray – Creator of the Elements App; Co-founder of Wolfram Alpha; spoke eBooks, creating media, and about the disruption caused by technology.
Bill Rankin – ACU mobile connected initiative. ACU in Texas, USA was the first university to deploy iPhones and iPod touches to all students and faculty, and they now have three years of data showing the initiative to be a success. Bill talked also about eBooks and the future of books and textbooks.
Abdul Chohan – ESSA Academy school UK – this schools was a failing school, until a re-boot saw iPod touches widely and smartly deployed.
Tony Vincent – Learning in Hand – Tony expertly goes through just what’s possible with mobile movie making.
Stephen Heppell ‘Education is the next cartel that people and technology will break’. Inspiring and disruptive as ever, Stephen was great at cutting through to inspire thoughts about what education should look like.
Jimmy Wales, co-founder, Wikipedia – A great opportunity to hear directly from the founder of such a central plank of the digital revolution share his thoughts on the power of information.
David McCandless – Infographics – informationisbeautiful.net
Just wanted to take this opportunity to say a huge thanks also to everyone who SMS’d and TXT’d in to support my shortlisting in the Primary Innovator Award category – the win was a  great surprise, and just goes to show the strength of the great networks I’m privileged to be a part of.

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I’m privileged to be speaking in the Learning Without Frontiers Conference ‘Best Practice’ session

Teachers with Tech

International Examples of Best Practice

11:30-18:30 Sunday January 9th 2011

As part of the Sunday Service we are delighted to be hosting a series of inspiring talks from some of the world’s leading teachers and practitioners who are using mobile, video game, social media or other affordable and disruptive technologies to improve the quality of learning.

During these quickfire 20 minutes talks practitioners will share their passion, practice and experiences.

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Direct observations about where Educator’s are at.

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.

Gathering of Educators using ubiquitous devices

Last night from 12:30am until 6:30am I attended my first full day web conference. What could have tempted me to stay up all night you ask? It was the ACU Connected event, and you can go HERE to see what sessions were held. As one of 130 educators from around the world (and two from my institution Education Queensland), we logged on to hear real life stories of Universities and Schools that are integrating connected, mobile, wireless devices into their learning activities. To get an overview, its well worth visiting this twitter summary at twazzup.com – it’ll provide you with the most popular links and tags that were shared.

So was it worth staying up for? Well I’d be a dill if I hadn’t made sure beforehand that it would be worth it! But yes, it was. Its one thing to read about and even take small steps oneself towards see effective teaching and connected, mobile learning come together; its quite another to hear directly from the actual practitioners involved in large scale rollouts. ACU has over a thousand students with iPhones or iPod touch’s. FHU has many more. Even some of the K-12 schools had up to 800. It was also a big help with my thinking about the small temp trial of OLPC XOs I’m managing at present. In some ways, the XO is like a big, kid friendly iPod touch… more on this in a future post.

Here’s some of my favourite quotes/ideas:

  • Effectiveness of connected mobile platforms for student use is a big debate as alot of the apps classified as ‘education’ are rote based only.
  • “treat mobile devices as full participants – media players AND content creators”
  • “don’t extend outdated pedagogies into new media”
  • Campus bookstores sweat as faculty move away from expensive textbooks to mobile readers and cheap/free learning resources (via @ruben_r)
  • MCG medical school has a youtube video showing their mobile learning www.mcg.edu/mobile
  • interesting FYI: iPhone vs iPod Touch in education – ACU finds iPhone users more satisfied/ use the device a fair bit more.
  • William_Rank (ACU) “We’re having so much virtual contact with students now that we’ve changed university policy about office hours.”
  • FHU 7 mobile learning objectives (link)
  • At FHU 87% of faculty felt comfortable requiring use of mobile device for class activity (via @allisonoster)
  • “I’m not sure that personal productivity & learning can function separately with these sorts of devices. It’s an artificial distinction.” “many see learning as seperate to personal productivity. Is there a distinction?” (via @agrie8)

    Preparing to present

    ITSC09 mlearning workshop graphicsI’m presenting in 3 weeks at the Innovative Technology in Schools Conference in Brisbane. For this event, I’d like to reflect a little on the process I go through in developing an experience for the participants…

    The first task I set myself when beginning to prepare my presentation is to create an initial page who’s graphics and text convey a sense of what the session will cover in as simplified a form as possible. Its the geeky graphic designer in me, but I feel it saves me and the audience time in explaining and introducing if much of the basics can simply be said graphically… (see what you think this sample of the graphics I’ve created so far tell you about what participants are in line for).