I enjoyed the Excited festival even though I didn’t get to see as much of it as I would have liked due to my commitments with the Youth Media Team. What I did see impressed me though, as it seemed to be a genuine attempt to bring together many of the stakeholders in our education system – teachers, students, policy makers and industry. It was heartening to see both teachers and students involved in a very real way across the two days of the event. For me, the stars of the show were the BT Young Scientist former winners, Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Emer Hickey. They reported back on Friday’s proceedings during Saturday’s event in a confident, articulate and kick ass way!
Of course, it was just my luck to be involved in a panel directly after their slot! I was honoured to be included in a panel but, if I’m honest, I was frustrated at my input on the panel. I find panels difficult to prepare for due to their diverse nature and it can sometimes be difficult to get in when you want to. A perfect example of this was the topic of online safety and cyber bullying that was part of the discussion on my panel. My tuppence worth on the topic is that this is not just an issue for schools. Parents need to take responsibility for this crucial aspect of their child’s safety and we need to be careful as educators that we don’t allow parents to abdicate their responsibility here. A tweet from a while back comes to mind!
As a parent myself, I take this aspect of my children’s safety very seriously and find it difficult to understand when others just seem to accept that they are completely out of the loop in this area of their children’s lives. Schools aren’t expected to assume responsibility for children’s physical safety outside of school hours so I’m a bit baffled as to why they are expected to assume responsibility for their online safety. I didn’t get a chance to say this on the day so I’m saying it now :)
One of the teachers in my daughter’s school was lucky enough to organise a Skype call with the astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield. She is currently completing her Masters and is researching the use of technology with her 2nd class students. They have been working on a cross curricular body of work centred around the topic of Space, the culmination of which was the Skype call with Chris. I was asked to come along on the day – thanks Leanne :)
1pm on the 9th of June was the appointed time and just before that I tweeted a picture of the girls waiting. When it was retweeted by the man himself I was more than a little chuffed :)
The next half an hour passed too quickly with the girls working in teams asking the questions they had already prepared. I loved their team names which included ‘Moon Stars’, ‘Space Buddies’ and ‘Sparkling Space Scientists’ among others. They asked fantastic questions too, ranging from Chris’s thoughts on lift-off through the availability of electricity in space, how they got rid of rubbish, his use of twitter and his preference for life on space vs earth. I loved the variety in the questions and the confident manner in which they were asked. But what I loved most about the call, was the thoughtful way in which Chris dealt with the girls. He was very careful to make sure he answered their questions thoroughly and to mention their team names throughout. I think there were a few starstruck adults (this one included!) in the room on the day not to mention the girls themselves.
The Excited Festival of Digital learning gave the Youth Media Team a chance to go on tour again. The Festival was held over the Friday and Saturday of the June bank holiday. We landed in Dublin Castle at 11am on the Friday with our gazebo in tow and promptly got caught up in the excitement that was Excited! The plan was that we would work with RTE Digital on the Friday, the most amazing opportunity for our red shirts! We had four of the Tipperary contingent and another four from St Wolstan’s in Celbridge in Kildare as part of the Friday team. St. Wolstan’s had set up a Radio TY group as part of their Transition Year programme based on the YMT so it was a fantastic opportunity to get both groups working together. While we got settled with RTE, our gazebo specialist with help from his son got to work constructing our home for the next few days :)The brief with RTE was to create a behind the scenes look at the students Dragon’s Den that was a feature of the day. We had to choose people for the various roles – producers, directors, presenters, camera assistant and editor. Once the team had sorted that out between themselves it was time to get to work.
Over the course of Friday night and Saturday, the team got on with their ‘day’ jobs of interviewing, blogging and tweeting. They interviewed Lord Puttnam, Marty Cooper (inventor of the mobile phone) and Dr. Rene Lydiksen (Managing Director of Lego Education Europe) among others.
We also got a chance to be part of the highlights from the Festival on both sides of the camera :)
All in all it was a great opportunity for the team to be involved in such a central way in the inaugural Excited Digital Learning Festival. You can check out their work from the event at ymt.fm.