Friday, September 6, 2013

#VITTA13: Provoking Learning with ICT...a reflection

So last Monday week ago or two, I attended #VITTA13 at Caulfield Racecourse. Usually I use the VITTA conference to back up my VCE Information Technology teaching, however this year, I looked to change that up in line with the theme of the day. (It totally helped that a lot of the VCE content was to be held on Day 2, and I couldn't attend due to timetabling constraints.)

Onto the train I hopped, no problems (which is new) with swiping on and swiping off, and along for the ride is a friend of mine from the last school I worked at, and we have a good catchup about recent happenings and our discussion quickly changes to where our Software Development classes are at. Before long, we got to Caulfield Racecourse with a fair bit of time up our sleeve.

Get to the conference and you always see faces that are familiar around the traps. Sign in, get my care package and head to the first keynote. Bruce Dixon, founder of ideasLAB. Walking in, I spot a few people that I met at the #VITTA2011 and I know that we'll spend a bit of time catching up later. Bruce is introduced and speaks about the history of ICT in education and about provoking change in education.

He said that as teachers we feel intimidated by technology as if it will eliminate us at some point in the future, and that we should realise that it simply means our role in the classroom will change and evolve. He stated that we must start looking to the way our students live in the modern world and how the way they live impacts on their learning and the relevance of schooling. He also said that as a society we had been burdened by the Plague of Low expectations in relation to the implementation of technology in the classroom, which to a degree I agree with. My own thoughts on this however are that we don't make enough time to plan the integration into our classrooms...and it's our poor planning that leads to the low expectations.

Bruce finished with something that has stuck with me since and that was EXPECT MORE! This is something that I've believed in for a long time as I feel if we have low expectations of our students, they in turn only achieve to the expectation. Raise the bar and see them fly!

A statement he made about only having two or three individuals in most schools passionate about ICT also resonated with me, and made me think how lucky I am to be at the school I currently work in with regards to the number of passionate people we have.

I had originally planned on attending the following sessions:

  • The Power of Screencasting
  • Hospital space is an innovative learning place
  • 2nd Keynote: Mary Anne Williams
  • Creating Contempory Learning: The Imperative for Change is Approaching

However, as always, catching up with the guys (lets call it "networking with professional colleagues") means missing a session or two. So unfortunately "The Power of Screencasting" (sorry to the presenter!) was that session and the Williams keynote were the ones to miss out. That being said, the discussions that traditionally take place on the dining tables overlooking the racecourse are usually more enriching for me than anything else.

It's an opportunity to see where I could end up after a number of years and hear the guys talk about their dealings with vendors, respective school ICT policies and structures, and get advice about my own situation, which admittedly, I feel is at a crossroads of sorts (more on this another time).

Hospital Space is an innovative learning place
My school at present has a number of students that are currently in/outpatients of the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne and it was no surprise that one of my colleagues also joined me in this session. Lauren Sayer presented a view of the RCH's education program for both in and outpatients. The RCH is a dynamic learning environment that is opt-in (i.e. patients choose when to learn depending on how they feel). The RCH educators form an Individualised Learning Program, in conjunction with the child's school, in order to ensure that learning occurs even when the child is both in and out of the hospital. Often, the educators use a series of project based learning tasks to keep the students engaged and learning about topics that are important to them (the patients). The tasks are structured around a series of cards (see below)

I think a number of teachers and schools could learn from the way the RCH conducts its education program. I know that I'm thinking of working on a set of cards for some mathematics assignments in 2014.

Creating Contemporary Learning: The Imperative for Change is Approaching
I found this one another interesting session, given my school's eventual move to Windows 8. It was a good opportunity for the Travis Smith, former teacher and now consultant with Microsoft, to showcase the potential of Windows 8, SharePoint and SkyDrive within the educational context. Not only did he talk about this but also classrooms of the future in which they look very different to the ones of today. The collaborative features of these three applications for both staff and students at any school is incredible and looks to match the features (if not identically, pretty damn closely) of Google Drive.

Anyways, all in all a good day had by all...and all things considered, I'm apologising for the fact this took two weeks to get out! Next post will come this weekend! Promise!

Until next time...May the Tech Be With You!

Jimmy V

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