A couple of things struck me during the 24 hours that were the CESI Meet and the ICT in Education conference 2 weeks ago. Firstly, my lasting impression is that those who came to Thurles for the event like to talk, and in some ways it’s almost an inconvenience having to break off conversations to go to plenary sessions, workshops and presentations as part of a conference. There are many ways for educators to connect in the 21st century and readers of my blog will be well aware of my love of Twitter as a means of communication. But what really struck me at the conference is that nothing beats the good old fashioned face to face contact. The crew at #ictedu were no strangers to twitter, and helped to make it the No. 1 topic across Ireland on Twitter for most of the day, and yet all most wanted to do was talk to the many other educators who made the trip to Tipp that day. As one of the organisers it was my job to remind people that talks were about to begin and to ensure that people were making their way to them, and yet every time I sensed a mild resentment that I was interrupting. As I have said on more than one occasion, I think the strength of conferences such as the ICT in Education conference, is the way in which it brings together people across all levels of education, and on the day this was brought back to me very strongly, as I watched people chat about so many aspects of our education system.
The mild resentment was most evident during the morning plenary session when Pam Moran and Ira Socol, ably aided by Conor Galvin and Bernie Goldbach, led us in the most unconventional plenary session that I have been at. From the start people were encouraged not to make themselves too comfortable as they were bribed down to the front to participate. It really is amazing how quickly people will move with the lure of a free flash drive 🙂 Early on in the session people were again encouraged to move around and explore the learning space that the conference centre in LIT Thurles had become. So began the chat and hence the resentment to cut short that chat as people were encouraged to take their seats again. It was incredible to watch the energy levels in the room rise so dramatically simply by encouraging people to move around and interact. Next came the ‘fish bowl’ when some attendees from students (primary through to 3rd level) to teachers found themselves contributing to the discussions that were so much a part of the session. Now we come to my second lasting impression from the conference – we spend a lot of time looking at different ways of interacting with our students and yet we often revert to the tried and tested when it comes to the format of events such as #ictedu. I will remain indebted to Pam, Ira, Conor and Bernie for the innovative way in which they led us in the plenary sessions that were such a spark for the many fires that were lit in Thurles on May 19th. A special word of thanks to Conor for planting the initial seed for an alternative format at the CESI Meet in Portlaoise in February.
My final impression is the importance of the live stream and the backchannel on twitter for events such as #ictedu. It’s great to be able to draw in people who can’t attend for whatever reason and it’s also crucial for people who are in attendance to ‘discuss’ what is being put to them via the sessions that they attend.
To get a sense of some of the conversations at #ictedu I’ll leave you with some of the tweets from those who were at the conference
and some more from those who followed from afar
I’ll leave the final word to Mark Glynn
I’m on for this – whose with me?