I was fortunate enough to attend another education technology conference in 2008 and this conference was the Western RCAC symposium held in London, Ontario on December 11th. This is the third conference that I attended this year but the first where I was not presenting. This afforded me the opportunity to focus on the messages provided by the presenters in why technology integration is crucial in today’s classroom.
Overall, I felt that the conference was a positive experience. I know that I grumbled when I reflected on my experience at this year’s ECOO conference in an earlier post, but I can honestly say that I feel rejuvenated after hearing the speakers at RCAC. The two keynotes of the day were David Warlick and Amber MacArthur. Let me discuss each keynote speaker separately.
I was very impressed by the quality of David’s presentation and the quality of his delivery. Here are some of the ideas David presented that resonated with me:
- Teachers need to be master learners
- Teachers need to focus on learners: teaching the learners they are and not the learners we want them to be
- Just because using technology may not suit a teacher’s learning style, that shouldn’t automatically exclude students from using it as technology may suit a student’s learning style
- When we buy a new TV, we are shopping for the creative experiences presented by visual artists – kids are doing the same thing when they are shopping for video games
- In the past, information was a product to be bought and sold. In the 21st century, information is a raw material to be exploited and used in the creative process.
- Countries that we in North America may see as less developed as we are have better technology infrastructure than us – Mexico to bring broadband to every house by 2012, Macedonia is a completely wireless country, etc.
- Video games are changing the nature of learning but this industry will also drive an increased need in story writers, artists, musicians, etc – we should not shortchange the arts in our funding and in our instructional focus
- Considerations for Future Learning: (1) Networked Learners (2) New Information Landscape (3) Unpredictable Future
- It’s not Lifelong Learning, It’s a Learning Lifestyle
To be honest, I was a little disappointed with Amber’s keynote. It’s not that the keynote itself wasn’t up to par. In fact, it was a very informative presentation and well delivered. I was disappointed mainly because she tailored her presentation for a crowd of educators. I think that she would have done well to focus the presentation on where her forte lies – in presenting how technology is changing culture (outside of education) and how online culture is changing the world. Educators really need to hear that message too because, ultimately, this is the world students live in and will live in. I think that educators sometimes isolate themselves from the world and forget the relevancy that learning has for real life focusing too much on learning and disseminate information for it’s own sake. That having been said, I really appreciated Amber’s statement that students learn using the 3 C’s – communication, collaboration, and community.
I do want to share two things that occurred during Amber’s keynote that highlight the power of online networks and both took place in Twitter. Firstly, David Warlick was sharing in Twitter his frustration with an ATM and not being able to get money for a cab. He joked in Twitter that he was going to have to panhandle for money to get back home. When he was approached by a number of individuals in the audience offering to help, he stated how surprised he was that people in the audiences were actually following his tweets at that moment in Twitter. The other occurrence took place when Amber was talking about Twitter. Amber was discussing educators whom she found on the web who use Twitter as part of an online community and specifically mentioned @suewaters as an example. I follow @suewaters so I decided to mention the reference to her in Twitter. @suewaters, living in Australia (it was approximately 3 or 4 am there and around 2 pm in London, Ontario), got my tweet and was surprised at how quickly she was able to connect to the reference made to her Twitter account in such an indirect way. None of us three really know each other yet through Twitter, we able to connect to each other half way across the world instantaneously! Two perfect examples of the power of online networks!
I also attended two breakout session that had teachers discussing what they were doing in their classrooms in integrating technology to help kids learn. Overall, my attendance at the Western RCAC was a very worthwhile experience.