Science Revisited Plus

Today was day 3 and the last day of the national science teachers conference and it was time for my second session. Unlike yesterday where I attracted a grand audience of five today 23 participants were expected. Scanning the list of those who had nominated to come along I was quite chuffed to see some names who were identified as University based or education departmental folk amongst a number of other names who were unkown to me.  Of course being scheduled in the last group of workshop options the final attendee numbers were a little down on those expected and just a tad disappointingly, (or perhaps it might have been just as well), the missing delegates were those very departmental and uni based ones. One of the latter who did join us had attended an intro to Web 2.0 session I had run at the corresponding conference last year. Questioned as to why he was back he generously said that whilst he had learnt quite a lot last year he knew that he still had lots to learn and was after a refresher course.

As it turned out the group was pretty much homogenous with little knowledge of blogs, wikis or anything Web 2.0. Having been told this, (I usually try to suss out the group before launching in to my spiel), I sort of gulped and took a deep breath because I had planned to do a more advanced tools mashup. My feeling of disquiet was further accentuated because of the fact that pbwiki, where I had housed the presentation was having big problems. Fortunately I had also placed the content of the presso into a Wetpaint wiki presentation, (though I did have to do a few renovations during the morning keynote session, hmm wireless internet is so distracting). Unfortunately though the service on the wireless dongle was only one bar and kept crashing my Firefox, (big demerit point for them). In the end I pre-loaded all of the relevant pages which given the level of expertise of the audience were basically rendered irrelevant. Fortunately, (is there a pattern here?), I do have an online version of an introduction to blogs presentation on my science site that I have done in the past that I could refer to which was put to good use again before the last ten minutes was taken up in a large rush trying to at least do a bit of the add-on content from the wiki windows.

Overall the session went pretty well and we covered a lot of territory. The experience does go to re-inforce once again that the vast majority of educators are still well behind the pack. Mine and the other three Web 2.0 focussed sessions would have attracted less than one percent of delegates of supposedly the leading or aspirant science educators in Australia. Given my experience at CONASTA I wonder just what the state of play is in other subject based teacher organisations. I know that Graham had to use an IWB session to infiltrate some web 2.0 content into a presentation he gave to the Literacy Educator’s conference recently, but what of the maths teachers or LOTE, (Jess is leader in this area so how far is she able to spread her knowledge?). I know from experience that the SLAV, the school library association is making big moves thanks to the likes of Jenny and Camilla and interstate Judy and Jean. They bit the bullet recently and hosted Will for a great session to an basically sell-out crowd in Melbourne that I was fortunate enough to attend. Is Web 2.0 still the province of the IT crowd and isolated classroom teachers or schools or are subject assocations becoming at least aware of the possibility and embracing initiatives on a larger scale as has SLAV and what is the situation elsewhere than Australia or am I just jaundiced?

Just in case you think I am the latter, I really enjoyed my little session today and I got some good vibes from it then and later too. Maybe the dam is breaking and my friend from Uni will be back again next year though telling of his successes with blogs and wikis??

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