Monday, October 1, 2012

Two amazing conferences - Part 2

So the rain/drizzle has stopped and I have had a nice chat with Ana Donaldson about her trip to Northern Ciprus.  But now I am in that sort of information overload mode that one has after a conference. Checked of of the room and sitting in the lobby waiting to go to the airport.
I really like the ICEM. It is a small, intimate association that is truly international, and even though there were probably not even 100 people at the conference, every continent was represented.
I did a keynote with Piet Kommers last year in Aveiro, and this year here in Cyprus.  I really think I will be going to Singapore in 2013.
So here are the highlights.
Design Thinking and Learning Design, Nicosia, Cyprus 26 - 29 September #ICEMCY12
John Hedberg set the tone with a keynote in which he showed much new technology, and then asked the question - are we really extracting maximum value from all this technology.  Somehow we cannot get to overcome Larry Cuban's criticism of so many years that technology has simply not lived up to its promise.  But then, if one compares that with the final keynote by John's colleague Matt Bower, then the answer becomes a resounding YES, or NO...
What I take away from this conference is that we MUST re-think what we do. And we must be brave, and we must be radical.
Why on this green earth are we still expecting students to write conventional essays and illustrate them with conventional pictures if there are mobile devices and apps that cannot be embedded in conventional writing - and if what we are getting students to write about, is much better exprienced than described. Hats off to people like Veronica Barnes and Rael Futerman from CPUT who are brave enough to let students make videos instead of write essays.  Hats off to people like Jolanda de Villiers Morkel and her colleagues in Architecture who have extended the studio into the pockets of her students by using Facebook.  Hats off to Ayesha Toyer and her blog teaching, and Marian Pike and her Twitter teaching.
What really concerns me though as I reflect upon this and other conferences, is the number of times that I suggest things at work only to be told by my seniors or my juniors that it will not work.  Then when I get to conferences I hear that other people are trying it out, and then I read online that there are even "rules" for it.
One case in point.  In discussing our Unviersity's computer budget I have been saying, why does the university provide technology - either to staff or students. Why don't we ask people to provide their own technology - within certain parameters and then incentivise it.  Then I was told it can't be done.  Then John Hedberg actually gives it a name. It's called BYOD.  Bring your own device.  THEN there are online articles such as "Five rules for 'Bring Your Own Device" teams".  In other words, the answer to the naysayers is "Yes, it CAN be done, if you follow certain rules".  When I argue with people about what a studio is, I get called a cretin and someone who simply does not understand design education.  And then John points to artciles about SKG "Spaces of Knowlege Generation" - and then I find articles about it such as this very new one by Riddle (2012).
While I am wondering how we can use a tool to portray our new modular curriculum visually, John shows "Lino" - which is a shared pinboard for education.  BRILLIANT.
While I am wondering how we can use android apps on the tablets that we bought for our ECP students, John points us to Kathy Schrock's "Bloomin excellent" classification of Apps according to the new version of Bloom's Taxonomy.
So the conference was really good for my soul - and really good for my self-confidence in terms of where we should be going as a faculty.

The keynote on day two was Professor Gráinne Conole who took design thinking in learning to a whole new level.  The whole concept of Learning Design, rather than Instructional Design, offers an amazing set of solutions to the re-curriculuation problem in the Faculty.  I have invited her to spend some time with the Facutly and we'll see if we can combine this with a trip that she will be doing to Unisa anyway. The slideshow of her talk is an absolute must read for anyone who is in the process of designing any form of learning event.  And
THIS PICTURE simply had me drooling.  I WANT ONE for the whole Faculty's offering. Learn to use Linoit, everyone.

Matt Bower's presentation made it so clear that we simply cannot continue the way we are working. There's a whole new world out there.  Two years ago, at a Faculty Training Day I said: "Mark my words, the future lies in APPS"  Retha and her team took it hook, line and sinker, and I am so proud of what they are doing now.  The only real comment from the floor was "We need to think holistically about where we are going first, before we can fragment it all with apps. We need to ask 'what apps for what purpose' first."  And, of course, nothing happened.  So we have fallen even further behind.  We MUST get together and have a workgroup on apps.  Check out this blogpost of Matt's and you will see why.

Then, just to complete my experience, at the end of the conference I went for my frst swim in the Mediterranean in Larnaca.  The evidence is on Facebook, but I will not link to it.  It was after the swim that Antia Stangl introduced me to the magical world of Geocaching.  She logged in on her Cellphone. Then we followed the GPS and solved a little puzzle. And there, hidden under a bench was a tiny cannister about the size of half a thimble. Inside the cannister a little scroll. We opened the cannister, she wrote her name on the scroll, closed it and hid it away again very carefully. Then she logged into her phone and announced that the task had been successfully completed.

And just like that the magic happened for me.  In one simple act of finding a little magnetic tube and adding a name to its contents, and then recording that in the cloud the real world and the digital was made to connect. Here in the world of the Geocacher lies a whole new way of connecting with people, with retaining the actual artefact, and yet linking it to everyone else.  The implications of this for work-integrated learning still has to be plumbed.  I think I have found a new thing to be hooked on, GEOCACHING rules ok.

But it is drizzling again outside.

No comments: