This last couple of days has been spent at the Australian Computers in Education Conference 2008 in Canberra. These are a few random observations so far, sometimes with comment;
- Taking a bus to pre-conference workshops we were ticked off via a hand written list, (maybe it was quicker to confirm attendance?)
- Venue for pre-conference workshops is a de-commisioned secondary school now used by the Canberra Ed Dept as a training facility. Quite modern facility with side by side IWB’s, (Acitvboard and Smart), in the same room. Interesting to ponder on the redundancy factor of our present day schools and infrastructure compared with older schools where there are less inbuilt factors eg cabling.
- In a pre-conference workshop on Scratch, the presenter was blessed with the presence of Mitch Resnick from MIT, one of the developers of the app. Presenter Mike did a great job though must have felt pressure. Mitch was very gracious though and only on invitation took 10 mins to wow us with some other Scratch stuff.
- Over lunch wandered in to Mitch R getting ready for his after lunch session to ask a couple of questions and was interested to find that he had not bought the batteries needed for his little LEGO controllers. Re-assuring that even the Keynoters don’t always have things run smoothly.
- Really great that Keynoters can be so approachable and ready to really address questions and conversations. Mitch Resnick completely understood need to better enable embedding of Scratch. Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez willing to challenge but also listen to “normal” classrom teachers.
- Nice idea that rooms for concurrent sessions have an IWB in them though the board is set at relatively medium height and the participants are seated on a flat floor. If you are more than 4-5 rows back it is hard to actually view screen and text is often too small. There is a pull down large screen in each room but we can’t use it?
- For my session, the computer techs, (two secondary aged guys) alerted me to the fact that the board was not calibrated correctly so I didn’t use this facility even if I had used a Panaboard before, (can’t seem to recall that we were going to have IWB’s to use). Another tech, older, came in to check sound but couldn’t get it going so sound was a no go for the session. At session end all tech came back in and main man was able to in 1 minute explain how to callibrate the board to the two younger guys and had the sound functioning in 30 seconds. He then said well at least the next presenter will be able to use it…..
- Looking around the theatre for one of the keynotes, (unfortunately universally panned in my local PLN for lack of relevant content and engagement) it was interesting to note number and type of laptops. The majority of delegates are using pen and paper. One person in proximity was using a voice recorder. Later I noted the found of Flip videos starting up, (actually used mine to record a short address by Minister for Education).
- In the questionable keynote, (see above), of the 7 delegates using laptops within view of me, (including this one), most were either emailing, on Twitter, or doing other activities. A couple of folk were multi tasking though also taking notes in word prcoessor. Delegates using laptops for activities totally unrelated to the presentation is going to be a bigger challenge for presenters into the future let alone teachers in the classroom as more students have access to hand held and other mobile devices.
More later maybe….