It seems like it’s been forever since I made time to sit and reflect. Then I looked at the date of my last entry and sure enough…it’s been awhile. So I told my wife tonight I was not going to read/respond to any COETAIL blogs but rather my only goal for tonight was to write a blog post.

Last weekend I flew to Sydney, Australia to keynote the New South Wales AIS ICT Integration Conference along with Jenny Luca. What a blast of a conference. First of all the size was great with around 120 people, second of all almost everyone there was in education technology and very switched on. The first day Chris Betcher asked the crowd to raise their hand if they were not on twitter and only about 10 hands went up. He then proceeded to to say “Why  not?”. A fact that was again confirmed when halfway through the first day of the conference the conference tag #aisitic10 was a trending topic in Australia. The tag has stayed alive and well after the conference as well. I haven’t been able to delete it from my Seesmic Twitter App just yet as the resources around QR codes continue to pile up. Today alone there were 10 more updates to the tag.

The two day conference was “brill”. Jenny Luca set the stage Thursday morning (Recording and slides here). I took the red eye Wednesday after school to get there in time to listen to her. I’m glad the committee decided to have Jenny keynote before me as her being Australian I was able to get a feel for what was going on in the country…and then be completely embarrassed by the quality of pictures and presentation that Jenny used in her keynote.

Thursday I opened the day with a talk (listen here) where I was focused on showing ways these tools can be used in a learning environment. Because so many people were already on Twitter, I used Twitterfall to have the tweets show up on a secondary screen. I then asked for three volunteers to take notes on a Google Doc, as well as asked for a visual learner to go to Flickr and find pictures that could be added to the Google Doc notes to help visually represent the ideas. Last but not least for those not on Twitter, or those that wanted another experience, I set up a chat room and had people keep active that way.

Everyone came to this conference with a laptop, and I knew right away that if I did not find ways to engage them actively in my talk then I’d loose them to e-mail, Facebook, etc. I know….because I’ve been there. 🙂 The feedback from the audience was positive. People enjoyed having to focus, and having multiple ways to stay focused, taking notes, watching Twitter and checking on the notes. They also really appreciated that every 10 minutes or so I built in a 3 minute discussion time. Allowing them time to talk, digest, and catch up on notes, twitter, etc.

At the end of it….all I did….was good teaching. Allowing multiple avenues for people to be active in their own learning and giving them time to reflect as they learn.

The biggest take away for me from the conference was what is still filing the Twitter tag. That is the last 10 minute of the whole conference when we talked about QR Codes. Just last week both goo.gl and bit.ly announced that every URL shortened now came with a QR code. I believe this is a HUGE step forward for these little codes and mobile devies in general. After learning about what they were people discussed how they might be used in education. In 2 minutes they came up with:

  • Label all the bones on a skeleton in science class: When kids read the QR code it takes them to the wikipedia entry about that bone.
  • Label all the items in a World Language classroom: Staplers, pencils, clocks, doors, etc. When kids read the codes with their phone it gives them the word for that object in the language.
  • You get the point….it has me thinking now about how I can use more QR codes in my school as well. Most of our students have BlackBerries (cheapest way to text). So first I’ll have to get them to download a QR reader on their phone. Then we can have some fun.

    All in all a great conference. A big thank you to Chris Betcher and the lovely Linda for took me out to see the sights of Sydney on Saturday as well. I promised my wife I wouldn’t actually tour Sydney without her…so it was more of a scouting mission for a future holiday trip. 😉