#ISTE2015: The most emotional, yet inspiring conference I’ve ever attended

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Photo Credit: @TeachingSC

After a journey of some 30 hours and over 18000km (11,603 miles), I arrived in the United States for my first ever ISTE conference. It proved to be an incredibly emotional, sometimes overwhelming week. Despite the very best advice I received in the lead up to the event, I soon discovered nothing can quite prepare you for a conference with 20 000 plus attendees, over 1000 vendors, and nearly a 1000 workshops and presentations.

In trying to tell the story of my ISTE2015 journey, I’m going to focus on some key themes and experiences which stood out for me.

The power of the Unconference

Arriving in Philadelphia on Saturday morning with my good friend @lparisi, the weather turned nasty – and very wet. Forced to scrap my planned photo walk and city orientation, I immersed myself in the Hack Ed Unconference. Joining halfway though the day, I started meeting people I knew online, some of whom I’d been following for years; and joined group conversations about topics which interested me. I was less thrilled with the after party (I am not your typical party person), but meeting @lynnrathburn and her colleagues there made it all worthwhile.

Global Connections and Collaboration

Judging by the responses to our poster sessions, and the Twitter feed for several big Ignite presentations, connecting and collaborating globally was of interest to many attendees. I thoroughly enjoyed the Global Educators Brunch, hosted by @globaledcon and @VIFLearn; and the Global Education Day event. The brunch was made all the more special as it was the first time nearly all the #globalclassroom project leaders and organisers, from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and all around the United States, were in the same room. Most of us were meeting for the first time after over four years of working online.

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The Global Education Day was interesting, but its most important aspect was the people in the room. To sit alongside and converse with global educators who have inspired, guided, and helped make me the person I am today was an amazing, and very emotional experience.

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Coding and Makerspaces

I must admit this is a particularly big interest of mine at the moment, as I am trying to advise my school on the future direction of our ICT program. I am quite keen to delve into robotics and Makerspaces, and I loved the chance to explore the Maker and Coding playground events at ISTE. I played with Cubelets, shared my experiences with the MakeyMakey, searched for information on LittleBits, Squishy Circuits, and collected as much information as possible about 3D printing. I have plenty of pics, and some big ideas which I’ll be taking back to school.

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The opportunity to share my story & expertise in global education and iPad integration

When I applied to present at ISTE last year, I was well aware that the organisers accept less than half of all applications. I submitted proposals for the Global Classroom Project Poster session, an iPad Creative Challenge Workshop, and joined another poster session focussed on global blogging and the Student Blogging Challenge. To my surprise, I was accepted for all three – which was unusual to say the least!

The two poster sessions were incredible learning experiences, and I thoroughly enjoyed the informal, conversation based format – even though two hours proved utterly exhausting (and a little overwhelming). My workshop was a challenging experience. With just five registrations, four people turned up on the night. One left shortly after it started (I have no idea why), and one gentleman was deaf! Among the challenges was trying to run a group collaborative session with just four people, and working with American Sign Language interpreters to ensure my deaf colleague found the session valuable. I received positive informal feedback in the session, but I’ll admit it was probably the most challenging presentation I’ve ever given.

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Stories from The Global Classroom Project With Lynn Rathburn (USA), Heidi Hutchinson, Betsey Sargeant, Louise Morgan, Robyn Thiessen (Canada), Tina Schmidt, Barbara McFall, Anne Mirtschin (Australia), Michael Graffin, Julia Skinner (United Kingdom)

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Global Blogging – With Tina Schmidt (USA) and Julia Skinner (UK)

Thank you for the memories! 

Perhaps the greatest, and most emotional element of this conference was meeting Twitter friends, new and old, from all over the world. I lost count of how many hugs I received, and I won’t get started on the selfies :P. I had my first, second, and … who knows how many selfies at ISTE!

While sadly not all of my #globalclassroom PLN could attend ISTE, I was deeply indebted to those who made the trek, especially those two dear friends who drove 25 hours (each way) to come and see me. I hope I was able to make that incredible roadtrip worthwhile for you.

Dear @LParisi, thank you for picking me up at the airport in NYC, and the lift to Philadelphia. Your kindness, hospitality, and relative calm in the NYC traffic were deeply appreciated. I still maintain you have a very beautiful home – all protestations to the contrary :). (Please pass on my regards to your husband – it was a pleasant surprise to find a fellow photographer after a 30 hour trip to the USA. )

To @MrsSchmidtB4 and family, thank you for your warm hospitality. I still can’t quite believe that I was helping a “local” navigate Philadelphia, but I couldn’t have managed to see the city without your help :).

To everyone I met, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You made this conference one I will remember for many, many years to come.

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Counting down to #ISTE2015!

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Late last year, I took a risk … applying to present at two poster presentations and a workshop at the International Society for Technology Education Conference in Philadelphia, USA.

To my utter astonishment and delight, I was accepted for all three! As an Australian teacher, and global educator, the opportunity to present at #ISTE15 is a rare opportunity to meet many of my international colleagues in person for the very first time, and a chance so share my story and students’ learning with a global audience.

As the conference draws nearer, the reality of this trip is starting to sink in … for the first time in my life, I will be travelling halfway around the world … visiting Philadelphia, Washington DC, and New York City. A trip of nearly 30 hours and 18 600 km (11 600 miles) …

If you’re coming to ISTE, I’d love to see you at our #globalclassroom and blogging poster sessions. If you need an added incentive, we managed to convince @TheHeadsOffice (Julia Skinner), creator of the 100 Word Challenge, to fly in from the United Kingdom to join us for ISTE 🙂

If you’re interested in learning how to integrate iPads into your teaching, I will be running my iPad Creative Challenge Workshop (Literacy) on the Tuesday evening of the conference – which gives teachers a chance to explore some of the best iPad activities I’ve discovered in my #ionapsict adventures. This won’t be a talkfest – it’s most definitely a hands-on session! All welcome!

After the conference, I will be heading to Washington DC (July 3-10), and New York City (July 10-16). If you live there, I’d greatly appreciate any advice you could give to someone visiting these cities for the first time. If you’re up for a coffee and a chat, feel free to get in touch 🙂 And for the keen photographers out there, any local knowledge you might be able to provide would be appreciated! I can’t help myself – I’m already planning my trip around the photographs I want to try and take!

 

ISTE Presentation Details

Stories From the Global Classroom Project

Sunday, June 28, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
PCC Broad Street Atrium, Table 17

The Creative iPad Challenge: Integrating iPads into Literacy and the Language Arts

Tuesday, June 30, 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Marriott Franklin 1

Global Connections Through Blogging
Wednesday, July 1, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
PCC Broad Street Atrium, Table 1

 

Educating for World Futures (#TEDxPerth 2014)

It is a rare occasion indeed to have one’s work mentioned on the TEDx stage, which is why I’d like to share this talk from TEDxPerth 2014, which focussed on the future of education.

From the TEDxPerth website:

“The 21st century presents the greatest challenges and opportunities ever faced by humankind. It will span massive transitions in technology, society, human well-being, values and our world ecosystem.

Neville Bruce discusses how he must prepare our youth to meet these challenges with awareness, understanding, engagement, empowerment and above all action. That is what Education for World Futures (EWF) is all about: but it needs enacting now! So what is the EWF idea, where is it now and how can we make it grow?”

Looking back: International #DotDay 2014

International Dot Day was the first ‘global project’ my PrePrimary and Year 1 students participated in for 2014, prior to the arrival of “Travelling Teddy” in Term 4. #DotDay was a fantastic, simple little project, and I’m proud to share my students’ dots with the world – even thought it is somewhat later than I’d planned!

The Global Classroom Project: An Australian Teacher’s Story

It has been somewhat remiss of me, but having so much to do over the past few months, I am only now sharing the slides and recording from my presentation at the #OZeLive Conference, which was held some months ago. It’s good to be back to blogging, and there are a few more posts in the pipeline.

My thanks to the OZeLive coordinators for an amazing conference, and the opportunity to share my story. The YouTube recording of the presentation is embedded in the slides; however, if you wish to watch the Blackboard Collaborate version, please click here.

World Water Day International LinoIt Project 2014

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This coming weekend marks  World Water Day 2014, held on March 22 each year, and it promises to be a rather ‘wet’ weekend.

World Water Day International LinoIt Project 2014

For the past three years, the WWD LinoIt Project has given students around the world the opportunity to share their thoughts, photos, and experiences of water conservation with the wider world.

This year’s project will run from March 19-25, and will be jointly hosted by Class 5, from School 1302 in Moscow, Russia and Robyn Thiessen’s Grade 4/5 class in Canada. We are also looking forward to working with Project Purus, who are fundraising to provide clean water for school children in Nepal.

Please bookmark the 2014 LinoIt and share with your class using this link – http://bit.ly/worldwaterday2014.

I’m hoping to smash the country participation and audience count this year, so please feel free to share this with your networks!

Global Classroom 2013-14 Launch Webinars – Nov 22 and 23/24

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It is hard to believe, but Global Classroom 2013-14 is upon us. When I co-founded our first project in March 2011 with Deb Frazier, I never dreamt that I’d be here, two and half years later, announcing the launch of our fourth instalment … building on some amazing years of global connections, conversations, and collaborations.

But, here we are. 

Our project launch webinars will be happening on Friday Nov 22, and Saturday Nov 23/ Sunday Nov 24 (morning), marking the beginning of the next chapter in our #globalclassroom journey. If you come along, or watch the recordings, you’ll have the opportunity to meet some of inspirational leaders, engage in global conversations, and start to explore the amazing possibilities presented by breaking down your classroom walls.

This year, we’ve set up a Google Plus invitation to enable people to check when the sessions run in their time-zone, and to add a reminder to their calendars by RSVP’ing their attendance. If you have any questions, please get in touch 🙂

As usual, these webinars will be held on online using BlackBoard Collaborate. We recommend checking you have the latest version of Java installed on your computer (or download the Blackboard Collaborate app for iOS), and log in at least 10 minutes prior to the start of the session. Thanks!

 

Session 1 –  Friday, November 22(#GlobalEd13)

 

Session 2 – Saturday Nov 23 / Sunday November 24

Please note, the repeat webinar on Saturday takes place in a different BlackBoard Collaborate room, courtesy of Warwick University. Please make sure you use the correct room link!

My “Idea Worth Spreading” – #TEDxPerth 2013

 

A few days ago, I attended my second TEDx Perth, an ideas forum which I have come to love for its’ sheer energy, enthusiasm, and stories. I listened to stories from doctors, a mountaineer, a sustainability guru, and the list goes on … Humble stories which inspired many.

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But, perhaps the most important, and special moment of the day, was when I was given the opportunity (with 10 others), to come on stage and pitch my “30 Second Idea Worth Spreading” …

It just wasn’t (and isn’t) possible to share my passion for global education and collaboration in under 30 seconds, but I took a couple of deep breaths (first time I’ve been scared stiff in front of a – 700 strong – audience!), and did my best …

Without quoting what I said verbatim, the essence of the message is simple …

I believe that children (and teachers) learn best when they “learn with the world, not just about it” … When they are given the opportunity to meet and build meaningful collaborative learning relationships with children from other countries, religions, and cultures.

Our global connections change us, as learners, and as educators. They teach us to care. They teach us to respect difference, and seek to build bridges across cultures. We learn to care about our environment and our community, both local and global. 

As global educators, we’re starting a journey with our students, one that has the potential to take us to places we’d never dreamed of … 

It’s a journey worth taking, and I passionately believe that this truly is “an idea worth spreading” …

Thank you to the TEDx Perth team for putting on a truly amazing event, and for providing us with the opportunity to share our stories and ideas with the world.  I hope to see you next year 🙂

Photo by @RS_au

Photo by @RS_au

Returning to #RSCON4 – A Journey Continues

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On Saturday night, I returned to where it all began, presenting at the fourth Reform Symposium eConference. Considering my global journey started with attending #RSCON11, and presenting for the very first time at #RSCON3, this was a very special occasion, and I was truly taken aback by the response and interest in my session.

With 35 attendees from 6 continents, this is a presentation I will remember for some time to come 🙂 Thankyou to everyone who attended, and thank you to all those wonderful people who’ve sent me feedback on the session. It is greatly appreciated.

#iEARN13 Takeaways (#RoadtoDoha Part 5)

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Qatari Cultural Performance

It is hard to believe that nearly two weeks have passed since this amazing event, as its implications are still sinking in.

For now, here are some of my major takeaway from #iEARN13.

1) The People

A sign of a good conference is its impact on professional practice. The sign of an extraordinary conference is the quality of the professional relationships forged with educators from one’s own country, and around the world.

The #iearn13 conference was an opportunity to meet teachers from all over the world, some I already knew, and others I met for the very first time on the #roadtodoha. Meeting David Potter @iEARNUSA and Michael-Ann @cerniglia, who I’ve literally known for years,  as well as the iEARN Twitteratti from the Netherlands and Pakistan, were true highlights of the trip.

I was also lucky enough to meet, and spend time with Julie Lindsay (from Flat Classroom), one of the two ladies who helped inspire The Global Classroom Project.

And then there were the people I connected with at the conference … From Australia, Mali, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Italy,India, Azerbaijan, Netherlands, Jordan, Canada, Australia, and the United States. Listening to their stories was a fascinating, thought provoking experience which transcended cultural and national borders.

Meeting @cerniglia

Meeting @cerniglia – roughly halfway between the USA and Australia

The Pakistan iEARN Twitterati - including @FSKamal, @hsaeed92, @SidrahN,   and @BilalZKhan

The Pakistan iEARN Twitterati – including @FSKamal, @hsaeed92, @SidrahN, and @BilalZKhan

The iEARN Australia delegation @ Cultural Night

The iEARN Australia delegation @ Cultural Night

2) Realising I have a future in iEARN, and a role to play within it.

The primary reason for my attending the conference was to learn about the philosophy, community, and people which make up iEARN. As a relief teacher, I was struggling to make a connection with the organisation, as I couldn’t engage in the projects and opportunities it offers. But, this conference helped to change that – in a very positive way.

Walking away from #iearn13 with new friends, new ideas, and three international presentations to add to my resume was the culmination of months of planning. It was a huge risk, but it appears to have paid off.

I can see myself having a positive future in this organisation, and potentially a long-term role in helping iEARN grow and evolve over its next 25 years. While I’ll freely admit to still searching for a school where I can make a difference here at home, I’m excited about exploring new global opportunities with iEARN.

"The Spider", Qatar National Convention Centre

“The Spider”, Qatar National Convention Centre

An apt reminder of why I travelled the #roadtodoha

An apt reminder of why I travelled the #roadtodoha