With less than 3 weeks to go to the ICT in Education conference on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th May, it is conference central in my house and in my head! There are lots of things to be following up on at this stage – presenters, registration, marketing, facilities, technical support … the list goes on and on. For those who don’t know what the conference is all about – here’s a synopsis.
The conference is in its 8th year and continues to go from strength to strength. As an organiser of the conference I would describe is as ‘a conference for teachers by teachers’. What I see as the main strength of the conference is that it draws together educators across primary, secondary and third level education in Ireland who are passionate about what they do. I think sometimes we tend to compartmentalise education into the 3 stages, and it’s almost as if there is no crossover. Of course we all know that this isn’t true, so it’s great to have events where we can all meet to discuss issues that affect us all. Many who come to events such as the ICT in Education conference, are discussing topics at the Monday night #edchatie and generally on Twitter, so the day of the conference involves many lightbulb moments where you put a face to the avatar from Twitter. It then becomes about meeting up with ‘old’ virtual friends and continuing the conversation.
This makes it seem like you have to be a tech whiz to come to the ICT in Education conference – this couldn’t be further from the truth. To quote Nietzche ‘He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance, one cannot fly into flying.’ Some who come to the conference are indeed flying, but for every one who is, there are many multiples who are watching in awe, some standing shakily, more who have taken their first wobbly steps, and a few others who have found their feet and are running and dancing. What has drawn me in to the organisation of the conference, and what keeps me involved, is the willingness of those who have managed to take the shaky steps or who have mastered the art of flying, to share what they’re doing with those who are aren’t sure of where to even begin. I think many teachers are willing to incorporate technology into their classrooms but are bewildered about where to start and this is what we’re about. So, if you’re hesitant about where to start, or even where to go next, come along – you never know what you might learn!
The theme for this year’s conference is Learning Spaces with conversation panels led by Pam Moran, Ira Socol, Conor Galvin and Bernie Goldbach in the plenary sessions and a rich and varied programme of presentations and workshops in the breakout sessions.
My parting shot is this; at a time where educators seem to be under fire from many quarters it’s heartening to see so many give up their Friday evening and/or Saturday to make the ‘trip to Tipp’ to share their passion for what they do, to share what is working for them and to learn from others. So, if you’re flying come and share, if you’re taking your first shaky steps come for encouragement and if you’re on the sideline waiting to get stuck in come and be inspired :-) For more details of the conference, to register or have a look at the programme for the day check out the conference webpage.