I recently attended the E2BN education technology conference at Wyboston lakes. The conference was the first I had attended in my role of co-opted governor for Vale Academy. I was really surprised at the quality of vendors as well as the products on show, I may have taken a card for a few product to use at work!
Keynote – David Cameron @realdcameron – Developing Technologies to Support Learning
Firstly no it not that one, this one was far more interesting!
Some speakers grab you from the first word and David certainly did that. This energy for quality education is apparent straight away. But as he progressed a theme emerged that I have been looking at in my professional capacity and will be following up in my educational role.
Culture is very important for creativity, engagement and productivity. Schools of old were cold and imposing, I certainly didn’t want to go in let alone learn. But this is changing. Schools are looking to be a bit more like Google and Facebook. Developing a culture that nurture the natural talents of kids and encourages them to learn by being kids. The school I work with is starting to do this by embracing the outside spaces within the school grounds. They have developed an area that has a bug hotel. It has been featured on the RHS school gardening website https://t.co/yZR38q1gJK.
The garden has a second purpose. There are kids who have self confidence issues and need a bit of help developing this. Vale has looked at this and developed a program that provides a slightly different culture for a 15 mins or so. These kids have 1-2-1 sessions with a teacher/staff member. This allows them to talk about whatever they like without have to compete for attention in a classroom. Quite simply it provides something a classroom cannot.
This idea of culture is starting to move into the classroom as well and it is something that I want to look at in the coming year and how technology will support this.
Session 1 – Christine Jack @jackcl – Using Educational Technologies to Support Teaching and Learning in the Early Years
In the early part of the session Christine presented in depth evidence for and against the use of technology in the early years teaching. I fell into the for camp but only with a couple of added thoughts.
- Technology isn’t a a magic bullet for not teach properly. Technology uplifts good lesson planing and provides cross over into the technology element of the curriculum.
- Parents need to understand the balance and purpose of technology and devices. They are not a replacement for talking, participating and encouraging kids.
- Technology can a link between schools, teachers, kids and parents but it doesn’t replace a good dialogue.
The second part of the session I got my first view of early years technology. The main item of interest was the TTS BlueBot. A cool little bot that can be controlled using very basic logic from buttons on the bots back, iPad or a control unit using domino like bricks to create instructions. Easy to use for both pupil and teachers these bots can be used to encourage the use coding in other subjects. You can use the bot as a pointer for answering questions in other subjects, such as driving it to the right number to solve a sum. This a brilliant way to start to develop the concept of coding as a powerful problem solving tool.
Afternoon session – Cyber Security for the 21st Century and Beyond – Rhian Kavanagh @RhiKavok
A wonderfully engaging and informative talk by Rhian on cyber security but so much more! Using great content and production Rhian managed to capture the essence of good teaching and apply it to the subject of cyber security. Take note CSO’s and CIO’s out there, this is how to do it!
Covering the basics as well as some cross over to other curriculum areas she managed to add weight to the simple principles of security. Mange your identity, if it is too good to be true then it is and if you follow these two simple rules the web is less of a danger than some will have you think. I wasn’t unfortunately convinced about the use of the dark web but it did make me want to understand it better than I currently do.
The overall feel was that the web, tech and iOT are brilliant, wonderful and full of potential but with enough warning to make you think before you dive in.
I particular like the origins of the 419 scam section and the use of the phrase ‘self selecting idiots’.
The conference was really interesting has given me quite a few ideas for technology and learning tools to discuss with the other governors in the comings months.