Professional learning junkie or just curious?

I participate in all of the following types of learning opportunities.  Some may call me a junkie but I gain something from each, something different from each.  Each type has the added value of meeting members of your Professional network created through Social media face to face. The nature of the opportunities could be summarised as follows:

Large scale conferences (eg EduTech, ISTE)

  • Sponsors
  • Keynotes – mainly Ed Guru types with a smattering of high profile current practicioners
  • Programs and Trade Shows
  • Largely big picture issues
  • Open to all but limited by funds available


Industry Association Conferences (DLTV and ACEC2014)

  • Sponsors
  • One or two keynotes
  • Most sessions run by practising teachers – practical
  • Open to all but limited by funds available
  • Lower cost ?


Teachmeets (Teachmeet Melbourne)

  • For teachers by teachers
  • Limited structure
  • Free
  • Mixture of practical skills and issues


School based Professional learning Inquiry

  • Action research
  • Practical – directly related to student outcomes
  • Free
  • Amongst colleagues

Twitter / Google+ / Scootle Community 

  • Personalised to my needs and interests
  • Online – Any time, any where
  • Creates a PLN

Is one better than the other ?  I don’t think so, but I would not want to limit myself to one type.  The mixture provides a blend of experiences that I value.

What Professional Learning Opportunities do you value ? Why ?


“Enjoy the unknown place for much, much longer. Stay in the question”

EduTECH 2014

I stand to be corrected, but I believe this quote was from Tom Barrett in his keynote focusing on Creativity.  It certainly applies to the way my brain has been working since I left the conference a number of days ago.  I am most certainly still in the question of “What can I take away from this conference and act on?” or “What impact can I have on making change?”.   My enjoyment of the unknown revolves around reading other peoples reflections and comments and mulling over the archives left by those who share so freely on Social media .  I feel quite certainly on the “Edge of chaos” Sugata Mitra’s concept when I try and connect the reality of our schools and the messages portrayed by Sir Ken, Ian Jukes and many others.

Thanks to Sue Waters who curated many resources from the recent EduTech Conference in Brisbane in a wonderful Flipboard Magazine, I am now able to re-visit them whilst processing what I heard.

All the speakers listed below exhibited the following

Passion + Story telling skills + Experience = Captivating 

Mark Hunter at EduTECH 2014 from EducationHQ on Vimeo.

Ian Jukes on educating for the future from EducationHQ on Vimeo.

Sir Ken Robinson at EduTECH 2014 from EducationHQ on Vimeo.


Professional dialogue




We have been experimenting with the use of Yammer with the specific intention of encouraging professional sharing and dialogue.   Some staff have now made it part of their Professional reading routine to share material they find, or comment on material others find.   Our school Yammer community is ‘closed’ available only to those invited who share a common email domain.   This makes for a safe space where staff who may not have used online spaces before can practise in a confined and secure space.  It operates in a similar way to Facebook – posts, comments etc.

Yammer is an Enterprise Social Network that brings together people, conversations, content, and business data in a single location. With Yammer, you can easily stay connected to coworkers and information, collaborate with team members and make an impact at work. And because Yammer can be easily accessed through a web browser or mobile device, you can connect and collaborate with coworkers anytime, anywhere.

We introduced the idea more than a year ago and it is slowly gaining momentum.  Over the past year we have seen

  • staff sharing blogs and websites they believe others will enjoy
  • staff reviewing Professional learning opportunities they have attended
  • many staff advertising class blog posts (some using the built in feature that allows a Tweet to automatically add to the Yammer feed (#yam)
  • professional conversations about different educational issues.
  • staff sharing their Personal Inquiry topics and findings.

As with any tech tool, some staff have taken to it more than others but I value the impact it has made with those who have become involved.  We have a venue to share which is available anywhere, anytime and particularly useful for those part-time staff members who often miss out on Professional learning opportunities.

Conference thoughts

I have used Storify to summarise my experience over the past few days. I feel I have come away with lots of new skills and ideas for school and classroom implementation, but many more questions than answers. I have added some of the valuable links I collected to my Google resources page


You can see the Storify in the vertical format here 

In his closing keynote Chris Betcher asked us to consider the following questions.  A new blog post on that one coming up ???


Questions and reflections on #edutech

Having just returned from two days of educational stimulation and exhaustion at EduTech conference in Brisbane, I wonder; does anyone go to conferences like these seeking answers?  Do they arrive bright-eyed at the opening keynotes in anticipation of getting answers to all or even some of their school problems? Are they seeking a clear indication and plan for a future direction?  I hope not, as I believe they would come away disappointed.  It would be like bobbing for apples in a swimming pool.

The day after I returned, I was asked by my 84 year old dad (non-teaching background), “What was it all about?”. “Well, it was called EduTECH, so it was about Educational technology, but not really, it was more about how we have to change our schools and teaching because of technology.”

Other bloggers have described the content of the sessions in great detail and reflected on how this will impact on their teaching,  Kathy Turley and Simon McKenzie to name just two.   My note taking was too poor to produce such informative summaries for any readers here.  I was letting others on Twitter synthesise the main points and summarise the buzz (thanks to all #edutech contributors and summarised excellently here by Alex Semmens!).

So all I have to share are some of my ponderings :

  • The message is that teachers have to change their views of their role.  I know we have been hearing “No sage on the stage” for a long time but it is getting louder and louder and more important.  Technology is not replacing us, but it should be making us change our tack on our craft.
  • Flexibility seems to be one of the most important features of both schools and the teachers working in them.  Flexible access to devices, flexible working spaces, flexible timetables, flexible lesson structures, flexible mindsets amongst administrators, teachers and students.  Daniel Pink spoke of the power of ‘un-commissioned work’ – this does not happen in a classroom where time pressures are extreme.
  • There is a strong push to change, however the reality of the assessment system we send our students towards is a large disincentive for many and excuse for others. The famous Dewey quote; “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow’, could perhaps be re-considered; “If we assess today as we assessed yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow”.  What can we do about this major issue?
  • Students often don’t get enough credit – many presenters had examples of how amazing things can occur when we loosen the reins, this probably applies to teachers too!
PicTwitter from Lauren Batty @LaurenBatty01
PicTwitter from Lauren Batty

Overall, I was privileged to be entertained, informed and challenged by the ideas of Dan Pink, Sal Khan, Stephen Heppell, Ewan McIntosh, Alan NovemberStephen Harris and Sir Ken Robinson.   I was just as excited to hear the story of Star of the Sea School Cleveland and Alice Leung and to chat amongst my colleagues about how any of this can translate into change in our varied workplaces.

In this blogpost, Ewan McIntosh summarises the theory of Guy Claxton;  The magnificent eight qualities of powerful learners and he expanded on that in his presentation.  The words viewed here might seem like catch-cries without the context but the message was strong.

The ‘big’ conference experience has also left me appreciating more and more the joys I experience at the far more intimate professional learning gatherings hosted by Teachmeet Melbourne.  There is so much wisdom in every school community, every local neighbourhood and definitely at every TeachMeet.  It is no surprise that we see responsibility, real change, choice, collaboration, respect and challenges at every event.