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DEECD Innovation Showcase

I attended my second DEECD Innovation Showcase today. As always getting out of school and amongst some interesting people with great ideas has inspired me to communicate.

Sadly, I wasn’t nearly as inspired by what I heard and saw as previously.  Don’t get me wrong, there were some fabulous speakers and many teachers doing wonderful things in their classrooms, although I heard less truly new stuff than previously.  No, it was the audience and the lack of wireless that failed to impress.  I couldn’t believe that everywhere I sat I was the only person in sight using a netbook or laptop.  I never write notes anymore because I know I’ll never look at them again and my handwriting is so slow and messy that even if I did I probably wouldn’t know what I wrote.  There was no public wifi but it still surprised me that there were only a few of us (richielambert, curry08, toze12, merspi, murcha and me) tweeting.

What I did enjoy were the keynotes from Charles Leadbeater and Adrian Camm.  These are people who force us to think about the why and how of what we do and we need these wake up calls.

Seeing what Lynette Barr and Louise Duncan are doing with games and mobile devices has only renewed my resolve to investigate this for my school and it was interesting to hear about how Cam Tingay is using Ning with upper primary students (even though, as Kanga37 pointed out) they are under 13, the minimum age according to the terms of service.

Apart from the lack of wireless, the organisation, facilities and food were all excellent.  And those Dyson Airblade hand-dryers in the restrooms were something else!

Dyson Airblade

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DEECD Innovation Showcase 2009

Last year I was able to attend this event in person and it was great – lots of inspiring stuff to hear and see.  I was disappointed recently to realise that this year’s event was already fully booked before I’d even heard about it however a couple of new features allowed me to get over at least some of that disappointment.

This year 6 of the concurrent sessions were available online through Knowledge Bank Online and Elluminate.  People were asked to register prior but I don’t think that actually mattered, some of the attendees had clearly come via twitter links.  Anyway, I did the right thing and registered in advance and was notified by email when the sessions were coming up.

After a small technical hitch (something to do with getting around my school’s firewall) I was in and listening to Anne Mirtschen’s Flat Classroom Walls presentation.  And not just listening, viewing the same slides and videos that the real life attendees were too.  Later I “went” to Jarrod Robinson’s session on Rethinking Homework using SMS with students.

It was a great experience.  I learnt a lot from both presenters, enjoyed the backchannel chat and was able to participate by “putting my hand up” when some audience input was requested.  I did all this while at school and more or less carrying out my regular duties and it didn’t cost me or my school anything.  The only pity was that they did not broadcast the keynote speakers in this way, other than that it was nearly as good as being there.  And if I hadn’t have been able to tune in live, or if I want to check out the other 4 sessions that were broadcast in this way I can listen and view a recording of the Elluminate session.  I think that would detract from the immediacy of being in the live room but it is a great alternative when other commitments intervene.

Using Elluminate to reach a wider audience was an innovation in itself and truly reflected the spirit of the event – I hope we see more of this so that experiencing inspiring presentations is not limited to those who are physically and financially able to attend.

The other new feature is the Educator’s Guide to Innovation Ning which is

…part of action research by the Innovation and Next Practice division and will be available until December 31 2009.

There is a wealth of information around and about innovation including background on the presenters and video from the event.  There have been a range of discussions going on leading up to the showcase and already several blog posts from people reflecting on the day.  The ning will be a fantastic vehicle to maintain and build on the connections established through the showcase – I hope it doesn’t die at the end of the year but is allowed to continue to connect innovative educators.  Check it out!