It’s hard to know where to start as I try to capture the energy of the CESI 2012 Conference. I got to the Heritage Hotel in Portlaoise on Friday evening at 6 o’clock and left Portlaoise College at 6 o’clock on Saturday evening and in between had the most amazing, inspiring, thought provoking and invigorating 24 hours. Friday evening started with a quick bite to eat with Catherine Cronin, Mary Loftus, Stephen Howell, Leigh Graves Wolf and her husband Scott and what an entertaining meal it turned out to be. We then made our way to the CESI Meet which was just getting under way. Mags Amond was in her element as she got the Meet up and running with the fruit machine, the oracle who decided who was next up to speak (unless Mags decided who was next up :-)). First up was David Mitchell who Skyped in and told us about Quad Blogging and Feb29th.net. There then followed more than 2 hours of bombardment with lots of great ideas from people such as Brendan Buckley talking about chess, Mary Jo Bell telling us about her junior infants tweeting from @MrsBellsclass and Hellie Bullock talking about great iPad apps such as Skitch, Doink, I am learning and Story ideas. There were so many other presentaions on blogging, teacher efolios, learning philosophies etc. etc. etc. My mind was buzzing by the end of the night. As an aside, note to self for future years, don’t go up to collect a spot prize!! Mags suggested that I talk about Coder Dojo without my lovely Prezi that I had prepared so I really didn’t do it justice.
What followed the CESI Meet was an opportunity to chat, and put names to faces, and just generally relax and enjoy it all, which we did. It was fun to finally get to meet people in person, who I’ve been following on Twitter over the past year. I love my Twitter conversations, and am happy to stand tall and say ‘I’m Pam and I’m addicted to Twitter’, but nothing beats the face to face chats you get to have with people, at events like last nights CESI Meet.
This morning saw lots of faces at breakfast as we all got ready for the day ahead. I made my way to Portlaoise College and had a quick look in the room I was to present in later. All seemed more or less OK so I went to have a cuppa before we kicked off. The conference was opened by Adrienne Webb, chair of CESI, and Joe Cunningham, from Laois Education Centre, and a thought provoking presentation was given by Gerard McHugh from NCTE. Next up was Stephen Howell, who stepped in to the breach at short notice when Steve Wheeler was delayed as he tried to make his way to Ireland to present. As always, Stephen was amazing as he energised us all at the start of the day, and opened our minds to the wealth of opportunities that exist from simple tools like Scratch and the Kinect for xBox. You can download the software for Scratch2Kinect here. Then we were set free to choose the workshops we wanted to attend. The only criticism I have, and it’s not really a criticism, is that the line-up was fantastic so in each session there were a couple of workshops/presentations I wanted to attend. Well done to all in putting together such a varied and rich programme!!
To start off I went along to Anne McMorrough’s workshop on using iPods in the classroom and thoroughly enjoyed it. Anne’s approach of using the iPods to enrich the learning environment was technology in Education in all it’s glory. Next up was lunch during which I made sure that all was OK in Room 16 – location of my presentation on ‘Getting stated with technology’. My session was chaired by Ban Ryan and the hour following lunch was filled with Animoto, Glogster and Voicethread – web tools which can be used in a multitude of ways in classrooms. Next up for me was Simon Lewis’s workshop on Making an App which was a full house as expected. Unfortunately the broadband did not allow me to use AppMakr but lots in the room managed to get going with it. I definitely want to have a look at this tool and I’m looking forward to working through the steps outlined in Simon’s post on making an app on Anseo.net.
And so to the capstone address from Steve Wheeler. To say that it was a thought provoking presentation doesn’t even begin to do it justice. We were challenged to reflect on the future and where we are headed. To paraphrase Steve – we are living in exciting times and the change is not linear, it’s exponential! The way in which so many ideas were stitched together was magical and left me with plenty to ponder on my journey home. And so we get to the journey home – in some ways my favourite part of any conference. This is when I have time to digest and ponder the many, often simple ideas, that are thrown in my direction, by presenters who do such a good a job in getting me to reflect on what I am doing and how I am doing it. As I drove home from #cesi12 I was shocked at the speed at which the hours passed. I didn’t get enough time to talk to people and yet I talked to loads of people. I will finish as I started – from 6 o’clock on Friday to 6 o’clock on Saturday I had the most amazing, inspiring, thought provoking and invigorating 24 hours. Thank you one and all.