ELH: Life Lessons in ICT


I was fortunate enough to attend the Exapanding Learning Horizons Conference which is held each year in Lorne.
2009 was the third ELH conference I had attended and, this year, I had the pleasure of sharing it with five of my colleagues. This definitely added to the experience! 🙂

The highlights for me were many and varied.  During a number of sessions throughout the conference, you could have been forgiven for thinking that we were attending a personal development conference and not an ICT one.  For me, this was why this year’s ELH conference made an even bigger impact on me than previous years.  I really felt that things were “coming together”, so to speak.  Valuable lessons in life were merging with ICT and educational issues – I loved it!

It was during two of the Critical Conversations sessions that I felt real connections were made between life and ICT in education.  The discussions during both of these sessions headed down the ICT Professional Development path.  In one session, I heard Margaret Meijers talk about the importance of the right attitude and, in another, I met Roy Williams, who told me of his great passion for Physics.  The idea of the importance of picking up on people’s passion and linking this with ICT was then raised during the Critical Conversation by Peter Steer.
I was first introduced to the idea of Attitude determines Altitude by Roger Barrow, whilst he studied for his Private Pilot’s Licence.  Although the “attitude” it refers to is the attitude of an aircraft, of course it also suggests that with the right mental attitude and self-belief, we can achieve great things!

Teachers with the right attitude, even those who lack ICT skills, means that we are half-way there.
Teachers who do not have the right attitude towards the use of ICT in education means that we have an even greater challenge on our hands!
I would rather train a room full of “believers” who lack the skills than try to convince the “non-believers”!

Keynote speakers Andrew Douch and Travis Smith were both inspiring. Andrew showed us how ICT is “Redefining the Classroom” and how his use of Web 2.0 tools has improved the academic results of his students.  However, it is not just his use of Web 2.0 tools – it is also his passion for learning.  His students love Biology!  Travis’ enthusiasm and sense of humor was also a highlight for me.  His keynote presentation about “Scaling Innovation in Teacher Practice” touched on a number of important issues that generated valuable discussions with my colleagues.  He also included just the right amount of free software to keep us “Web 2.0-holics” happy! 🙂

I was fortunate to spend an entire afternoon with Steve Collis as he outlined his school’s “Real Audience Project“.  He illustrated the many innovative ways his school uses ICT to publish a variety of student work from traditional printed books via lulu.com to podcasts aired via their own school internet radio station using SHOUTcast.

Steve’s colleague, Mark Liddell, gave an incredible presentation titled, “Technology Ideas for Mathematics“.  Maths is definitely not my strength so I was intrigued to see how Mark approached his use of ICT with his students.  Again, it was this presenter’s passion that shone through.  If only I had a Maths teacher like Mark when I was at school!

Learn how to learn with passion and curiosity

Learn how to learn with passion and curiosity

There were many other highlights throughout the conference and I would need to several blog posts to do this conference justice.  However, for me, all of the highlights involved people who have an enormous amount of passion for what they do.  At the 2008 ICTEV Conference, I heard Margaret Meijers say, “Learn how to learn with passion and curiosity”.  At the moment, I am reading Sir Ken Robinson’s book, The Element, in which he speaks about “how finding your passion changes everything”. It was clear to me from the keynote speakers, presenters and the many people I met and spoke to at ELH that they had all found their passion. 🙂

Hot chocolate, a massage, relaxing in the sun…Could this be the ICTEV Conference? (Part 1)

Learn how to learn with passion and curiosity

I woke at 5:00am on Saturday morning and, as I headed down the highway, I knew it was going to be an amazing day. As the sun rose, it was like witnessing the unveiling of a beautiful canvas right before my eyes. The countryside was truly breath taking.
The first highlight of the day came via the keynote presenter, Margaret Meijers. I was immediately impressed by her humble nature as she made a remark about being nervous presenting in front of so many incredible teachers. This from an amazing educator who has travelled the world and won numerous awards! As I watched, listened, laughed and madly took notes, there were several things that made an impression on me:
“The impact of ICT in schools is only superficial. ICT just sits on top of our curriculum.” (Agree!)
“Some teachers are still clinging on, trying to be the experts.” (Agree!)
And lastly, perhaps my favourite: “Learn how to learn with passion and curiosity.” (Very nice!)

Margaret told the gorgeous story of “The Heffalumps” which she has now posted to YouTube. It cleverly highlighted just how silly the “ban the iPod, ban the mobile phone…” approach can be.
Margaret also spoke of a new technology known as PicoCricket, the next exciting development in robotics that is appealing to both girls and boys.
PicoCricket is even more engaging for students because they create their own items, add materials they choose then program their creation to react, interact and communicate. Although still quite expensive to purchase in Australia, it is hopefully another form of technology that will quickly drop in price, making it more accessible for schools. There already a number of movies posted on YouTube showing wonderful examples of the use of PicoCricket.

New Literacies for a New Age (YouTube Full Screen)
New Literacies for a New Age (YouTube)