I want to start this post by saying that I am feeling overwhelmed right now with all of my new learning and the way I have started using technology in my PLN. I have a bunch of blog posts in my head and am trying to filter them so that they are relevant and useful to people who may be reading, rather than just spewing thoughts from my head as they appear there.
On Saturday I attended EdCamp Hamilton with my colleagues from the AQ course I am currently taking with Brenda Sherry (Integrating Information and Computer Technology in Instruction, Part 1). I had never been to an event like this before, and I honestly have mixed feelings about it.
For those of you unfamiliar with the EdCamp model, it is what is referred to as an “unconference.” Basically, you show up to the event with some ideas of what you would like to discuss with like-minded attendees. Everyone meets at the beginning of the event to pose their questions, and then the questions are posted on a schedule. You choose the discussions you want to join, and everyone contributes. There is no leader.
There are, however, organizers who set up the event and run things on the day. For EdCamp Hamilton, we had a great team of organizers, who did an absolutely amazing job. The event ran smoothly, and there was a great turnout. Lunch was delicious, the space was great, the scheduling was done quickly and efficiently, and the organizers were extremely helpful.
I first want to say that since joining Twitter I have met so many educators online, and the best part of EdCamp for me was seeing a bunch of them face to face. However, I was a little outside my comfort zone, and therefore didn’t talk to many people or introduce myself to them. In retrospect, I think this is the problem I had with the EdCamp model.
I took part in some great discussions with some amazing educators, doing amazing things in their classrooms. But I don’t think I enjoyed the event as much as I could have, simply because I was more reserved and introverted than a lot of the people in attendance. I also missed having someone to lead the discussions and present a visual to accompany my learning.
In short, I’m not sure what this model can really offer that I can’t do on Twitter or by reading blogs. Yes, it’s nice to chat with people about what they are doing in a face to face atmosphere, but how is it really that different from a Twitter chat? I think I prefer the traditional conference model, although I do recognize that my reserved attitude on Saturday may be to blame. Perhaps if I had put myself out there a little more and introduced myself to more people, I may feel differently right now.
This past weekend I was extremely lucky. I got to attend the first Google Apps for Education Ontario Summit.
I have been telling everyone that the Google Summit changed my life, and it is absolutely true. I really feel that I am looking at education and technology in a completely different way than I did before I attended this amazing event. Yes, I learned a lot of cool things about Google Apps and some impressive tricks that I can wow my friends with. But that wasn’t the best thing I took away from the Summit. Not even close.
What I came home with was a deeper understanding of what it means to be a teacher and a student today. And what I have discovered is that it’s okay to not have all of the answers. As a teacher I have a plethora of tools to help me find the answers, and a world-wide network of like-minded teachers, to help me and inspire me, at my finger tips.
And most importantly, it doesn’t matter what technology tools I prefer to use in my classroom, because the fast pace of these innovations is fostering a mindset of testing things out and seeing what works. There will always be new and better things available to me and to my students. But taking that plunge into something new and exploring it together is an authentic learning process that will be repeated over and over in my life and in the lives of my students.
As a teacher, I can lead my students into responsible digital citizenship, by being a responsible, innovative, and inspiring digital citizen myself. And that is now my major career goal.
As part of my goal to learn about and incorporate technology in my teaching of primary students, I set out to complete two major events this year. First, I got really excited about the first Google Apps for Education Ontario Summit. Subsequently, I made the commitment and signed up for the Integration of Information and Computer Technology in Instruction, Part 1 AQ course.
I was back and forth on doing the AQ, because I have always been pretty comfortable with technology, but it really became more about improving my learning overall and cultivating a learning community for myself.
In our very first class we created a 6 word story by finding an image about learning or teaching online and using Pixlr to add words to the image. We could only use 6 words, to sum up our ideas. I like this idea, and will definitely be trying it with my students. I am attaching the story I made here, as a focus of the blog, and to hopefully get the ball rolling.