18 May 2013

Educamp Dunners

Here we are on a moist Saturday evening in Dunners, reflecting on my first experience of an Educamp. It was, as I expected, a complete contrast to the traditional 'expert', 'key-note' sort of affair where one tends to drift off even if the wisdom being imparted is relatively interesting.

What did I take away from it? Well, for the first time in my life I made notes in a word doc instead of in a notebook. That's quite a shift for an old paper addict. But as I type much faster than I can write it makes good sense and I'm not sure why it's taken me so long. I'm likely to do much more with my electronic notes as I know where they're stored, for a start, and can copy and paste sections of them as required. I can also upload them onto MyPortfolio in some form as part of my record of professional learning (no doubt ticking some RTC box or other, but that's the least of my reasons for doing so!!) Leaving a timely trail of reflection as one goes (while the trail is still warm) is eminently sensible (as we're doing now), compared to doing massive, window-dressed, probably fictitious, template-filling reports for purposes of compliance, which no-one, least of all the author, will ever read.

So what did we do?
Several campers shared interesting stuff during the Smackdown. Here are some of the things that I'm likely to revisit some time, or which I found particularly interesting:

  •  'The 100 Days Project' seen at TedX Auckland, which consists of signing up to do and share one thing for 100 days (share some magic). The example used was of someone undertaking to paint 100 canvasses. I wonder what I'd choose to do?
  •  Breaking the classroom bubble - power of the # was preaching to the converted about the power of connectivity for taking learning and sharing beyond the classroom.
  • App crayons (not available in NZ but under $20 US for a box of 6, for writing on ipads
  • 10 ways  to use a cellphone in class - kids taking snaps instead of notes, screenshotting everything to save time and effort and to make it instantly available for sharing.
  • I liked the Gliff to attach an iphone to a tripod. $30US
  • bluetooth mouse and keyboard 90% of functionality of interactive whiteboard
     bluetooth headphones / not tethered to your laptop

    (and now for some reason the bullet points are having a spazz as I try to cut and paste and edit and they won't go back to the right place despite repeated efforts so I'll put that one in the not-important-enough-to-waste-time-on box)

    •  http://www.sparkol.com/home.php
      (used for RSA animates) $6 on ipad
      a bit fiddly on the ipad but much cheaper than for laptop)

      As we put up post-its of the above it reminded me very much of the Réseaux d'Echange Réciproque des Savoirs which some of my French PLN are exponents of and which dates from the early 70s. You may remember I took part virtually in a RERS conference in Paris from the comfort of my own office in 2009 (I think it was).

      I was eager to crack the nitty-gritty of creating Google Docs and that was the largest session. It consisted mainly of two people showing how they used Google Docs to enhance their students' learning. I found it mildly frustrating as I already knew how I wanted to use them but lacked the practical expertise. Fortunately as a follow-on from this session we had another chance to choose what to do next and I opted for an impromptu how-to-do-it session with David Fitzgerald from Cromwell. I like the way the sessions grow organically from the needs identified on the day rather than being set in concrete in advance by the boffins. It is, as you say, teachers being responsible for their own professional development and going and getting it rather than going along expecting things to be handed to them already packaged. It's a mirror image of what I've encountered with some of my students. They take a while to get used to being the drivers of their own learning.  So (revenons à nos moutons) we had a chance to negotiate our way around the Google Drive page and collaborate on a document. It was just what I was looking for, so that was an added bonus to an already satisfying day. I've come away with something concrete that I'd already identified the need for, so it was TIMELY. I was able to reciprocate on a very small scale by showing David how I used MyPortfolio. I was all set to come home and try a Google Doc between my two laptops using different addresses but I've ascertained that my school address isn't recognised by Google so either we rectify that school-wide or I get my students to create a gmail account for collaborative work.

      In addition to the above it was good to have a chance to meet Greg Carroll and see Anne Kennelly again. They carried us through the proceedings with flair and enthusiasm without in any way dominating them. It was all very horizontal. I look forward to further developments at Columba vis a vis the E-Learning Plan of Attack, or whatever its official title is. 
      We rounded off with a convivial lunch at No7, where we'd dined on Monday evening. It was packed to the rafters so it's just as well we had plenty to say to each other.

      Bonne nuit!!
      ^. .^


  1. Yahoo! It all sounds it has been a worthwhile day doesn't it? Yeah for your progress with Googledocs, I detect a few things that we could dig in from your comments, in particular how to publish Googledocs, manage them in Drive, and use the comments within (the voice ones as well!) Let s do a Hangout one of these nights. You will be surprised to see how many of your students currently use their own email address so just need to check whether it is gmail! And you talked MyPortfolio (you can show your googledoc on a myPortfolio page too!)
    A good day which culminating with a pleasant lunch and networking and meeting people is an excellent day, and you resuscitated @chezroo for the occasion :-) Wished I was there!

  2. And wait for it..... guess who I've just been making a Google Doc with? None other than my dear old Bear. Who would've guessed. I saved it as a word doc for potential posting to MyPortfolio although I'd probably have a few more goes before I do that. I took a screen-shot of it but I don't think you can post pics in the comments box so I'll just have to put it in a post. It's a historic document indeed.

  3. You can put in on MyPortfolio as a googledoc! Go and have a play with the GoogleDoc block under External Content tab when you are editing your page, and it will all be revealed. Shame I can t see it it is indeed a limitation of the comment box on blogger. But you can put images and anything else in the comment box on MyPortfolio! A historic document of this worth is indeed worthy of being classified as artefact! Bravo à tous les 2!

  4. Well, I've had a wee look at putting our historic googledoc on MyPortfolio on a page under the external content tab but I couldn't manage to get it there, in spite of pasting in the code as instructed. Some people just aren't intuitive.. sigh

  5. When you are on your Googledoc, click on File, then select Publish to Web in the drop down menu, then select "Start Publishing"
    Either copy the Iframe or the Url, stick in the MyPortfolio block > display page> voilà

    You have to publish a googledoc to the web if you want to display it somewhere else online or it doesn t display!

  6. Well, it's up there in lights, our insignificant wee first collaborative effort. The fact that David was willing to do it and was able to complete his contribution (a green 'hello') without throwing the toys out of the cot is much more of an achievement than my managing to publish it (thanks to your clear step-by-step instructions).

  7. Hi Ruth, I absolutely loved reading this post! I read it aloud at the dinner table at Neptuno last night as #educampdunners carried on! What a wonderful post to continue our conversations and help our reflection of a MAGIC day. I love the way you share this blog.. Gives me great ideas for learners... imagine the power of learning journey blogs for our learners... Powerful collaboration, reflection, journeying!
    It was MAGIC to meet you with Pascale on Tuesday night and incredible to meet again yesterday! I think educamps are an incredibly powerful philosophy and yesterday it was incredible to see and feel the power of learning, networking, and collaborating in the room!
    As we move forward I see #educampchch on June the 22nd and the inaugural #educamptimaru in August as powerful opportunities for South Island educators to connect. Online is fabulous but the true MAGIC is face to face which takes the online collaboration to another level!
    Thanks for sharing your powerful reflection...
    Where to now? ;)
    Anne K

  8. Anne you're so positive!! The ideal person to coax people into more collaborative, innovative pedagogy, fostering networks and maintaining a dizzying level of enthusiasm.
    The challenge, as you said at the Educamp, is to get more local bums on seats. I can see the gap widening to a yawning chasm between those who are willing and eager to grow and adopt new ways of thinking, doing and being (for both their own and their students' benefit) and those who represent the 'if it ain't broke why fix it' mentality. Trouble is it's very 'broke' but so easy to fix with collaborative effort and an open-mind. The trick is being able to recognise what you need in order to move forward. You can take a horse to water....or can you? You might wait an age before he acknowledges he's thirsty!! There seem to be two distinct species among teachers. Those of the sort who gathered yesterday, drawn there by their intrinsic motivation, passion and curiosity; and those whose world is dominated by compliance and superfluous systems.

  9. Hi Ruth, you make me laugh! My whole philosophy of educamp is that those who are there on the day are the right people in the right place at the right time! That sure was the case yesterday with a fabulously enthusiastic bunch of educators gathered to collaborate! I think it is up to us all now to spread the LOVE and network where and when we can. I try to live by this "if you learn, teach; if you get, give" and find it very rewarding to learn, teach, get and give.
    I was shattered today... we really did pack a lot of learning, networking and of course socialising into the weekend.
    So great to have a new friend in education in Dunedin! Very keen to catch up for coffee when you are keen! :)
    Anne K

  10. It'll be a pleasure, Anne. Give us a nod when you're not gallivanting around the region and we can make a date.
    I endorse your philosophy, hence my particular interest in the French Networks of Reciprocal Exchange of Knowledge (trans). The idea there isn't to reciprocate to the person or people who've taught you something but to pass it on to someone else (just like Educamp, really). They have exactly the same post-it identification of what people have to offer and what they'd like to learn. I observed it being done in a school in rural France in 2007 and interviewed the students about their experience of sharing their knowledge (student voice !!!) and it was very edifying. The knowledge they were passing on was wide-ranging from subject tutorials to guitar lessons to IT skills...... It created a really nice collaborative, horizontal vibe in the school of a type that's very rare in French schools. The students were Year 9 - 10 level. The teachers responsible for setting it up (which they did in the 90s) are very close friends of mine. It came about as a result of a student asking one of the teachers to help her learn Latin. The teacher said 'No' and that she'd be far to expensive but if the student would agree to teach the teacher Spanish then she'd be more than willing. That was how their network started and on successive visits I've seen 'generations' of students who were being taught guitar on my first visit and who had become the teachers on subsequent visits.


Let's go Back to the Drawing Board!