ULearn08 under way

The day has come, and the ULearn08 conference is now underway. An opening address by Chris Carter, Minister of Education, identified some key areas of focus for the future, including personalising learning and lifelong learning – and some of the planned government responses for resourcing, including announcements on the following:

  • provision for schools to use some of their 5-year maintenance grant money to invest in key ICT infrastructure
  • requirement for schools to allocated 1.5% of their recent 5% funding increase to ICT
  • provision of PD days for teachers in 2009 – 1 day for primary teachers, and 2 days for secondary teachers.

Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach followed as the first keynote speakers, focusing on the impact of Web2.0 technologies to enable online participation and sharing, and the need to shift from a classroom metaphor to a community metaphor for the way we organise learning in the future. Begins with putting educators within these learning communities to commit together to make change and make education relevant to the 21st Century Learner.

Sheryl shared that “Communities are quite simply, collections of individuals who are bound together by a natural will and a set of shared ideas and ideals.” and then shared some ideas about the evolution and maturity of communities, suggesting that successful and healthy communities are highly participative, have a clear purpose, co-constructed etc.

They shared their perspective of a goal for the future – for each child to create, grow and navigate their own personal learning networks – going on to quote Clay Shirky’s work on a continuum of experience in forming communities – sharing, cooperation, collaboration, collective action – leading to social change or change in our classrooms etc. to illustrate the responsibility we have to incorportate teaching about and with these things in our classroom.

Will noted that our kids are using web2.0 to share – and what they share is very important, and challenged us about the responsibility that we, as educators must accept in developing the right attitudes, understandings and behaviours that our kids will need to use this liberty wisely, noting that  “Our kids will be “google-able” for the rests of their lives!”

A great keynote address covering a wide range of both the opportunities and challenges of working in this collaborative world enabled by online technologies – wonderfully illustrated with personal anecdotes and stories from the web.

Key message for educators: “you can’t just study this, you have to do it!”

Lots more to share from this – but my battery has almost run out so will post this before it does:-)

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