The need for sharing and collaborating across schools was the key message I took away from the Brighton ISC EdTech Summit last week. We need to share what works, the challenges, the successes, the approaches and the journeys taken. It is only through this sharing we can be more consistent and effective in our use of EdTech.
Now before I go any further I need to get the journey off my chest. A 3 train journey on the way to Brighton including a rush to the 2nd train following a delay on train number 1, followed by missing my planned homeward bound train, which would have been a 2 train journey, and therefore requiring a 4 train trip. Am not the best traveller on trains especially when no seat is available and the above pushed me to the limit of my patience. All this plus taxis, so total travel of 7 trains and 4 taxis. But enough of that, now I have it off my chest, the key thing was the conference itself.
The event started with the launch speech by Ty Goddard and Ian Philips asking all attendees to engage and not just by liking or following on social media, but by contributing to the conversation. This message was re-iterated by many of the speakers, that there was a need for increasing dialogue and discussion in relation to EdTech, to what works and also to the journeys taken and all of the wrong turns, diversions and U-turns which arise as part of implementing EdTech projects in schools.
Richard Teversham from Apple was next up highlighting the fact that we now live in a world where every job is a technology job. I particularly liked his explanation of how we were in the third age, a people age, and that it was people first, before technology. My own experience seems to agree with this. Technology is great but it needs someone to understand how it might be used and how it might benefit teaching and learning, then it needs someone to actually use it. It needs people and these people need to be motivated and interested in how the technology might enable learners, they also need to see the potential. In relation to potential Richard explained that “with technology great things can happen” and I tend to agree.
As the event went on it was highlighted that there was a need to have a clear purpose in using EdTech solutions before any implementation. I particularly enjoyed an open panel discussion where all attendees were invited to contribute to a discussion about how the impact of EdTech might be measured. Ty Goddard summed this particular session up well with the suggestion of a need to refocus on establishing “Value” as opposed to “Impact”. The term “Value” to me is softer and doesn’t conjure up the image of exam results as the sole impact measure, plus it is likely to be more inclusive of the various ways that EdTech might affect (I had to careful avoid using the word impact there!) learners, learning, teachers and teaching. This session also provided me the opportunity to finally meet Bukky Yusuf who I have been interacting with via Twitter for a number of years. It is always nice to meet edutweeps in real life. I should note I also met Abid Patel in person for the first time during the course of the conference.
The conference also provided me the opportunity to present and I had the pleasure of presenting with Louise Jones, a fellow Scot. Her session was a bit of an eye opener particularly when she discussed “voice first” and raised the issue that traditional web searches return 1000’s of answers, but when you ask Alexa you will get only a single answer; As such what are the implications for our learners where they are likely to increasingly make use of voice first services? The existence of free web services was also raised and how we need to increasingly ask ourselves why a given service is free and how the service provider is themselves benefiting; few companies create a service, at their own cost, just for the good of society. I also liked her discussion of how version history and meta data, and the ability to replay the creation of documents by students might surface information in relation to the students thinking processes.
The whole event was finally wrapped up by Priya Lakhani from CenturyTech with an inspiring talk as to how AI can impact the classroom and also pointing towards what she described as “BS AI”. The final video of the conference being from Taylor Mali in relation to What teachers make. If you haven’t seen the video I suggest you watch it as it summed up the conference for me; I will say no more in order to avoid spoiling it.
It was a very useful, informative and enjoyable day. I also managed to get my Irn Bru into a few of the photos shared via twitter! But on a more serious note, the key in the days events is not the day itself but what comes from it and if Ian and Ty’s comments are to be taken as their aim, it is their wish that what comes from the event is further discussion. I expect that they will be successful in this and that discussion will follow the event.
So, with that in mind I hope to build a group of educators to discuss digital citizenship, an area I am particularly interested in, including curating ideas and resources. You can register your interest via this Microsoft Form.