Friday 7 and Saturday 8 June will go down as two of the busiest in my schedule for a long time. These are the days that CORE Education hosted an expo in the Wigram Airforce Museum in Christchurch on Modern Learning Environments.
On Friday 7th we hosted a seminar for principals and BoT members of the schools in CHCH who are facing significant rebuilding work or are involved in the merger/closure scenarios. We could only take 100 places due to the size of the auditorium we were in and we had a full house!
We were extremely privilged to have Stephen Heppell with us for the two days. He captured people's imaginations with stories and examples of MLEs that he has experience of around the world. His quick wit and excellent story telling stirred imaginations and opened people's minds to the bigger picture of what may be achieved in the CHCH re-build of schools.
Julia Atkin also gave generaously of her time to with us for the event. She focused on the processes that people will need to commit to in order to make this all a success – reinforcing the importance of starting with vision and values, and extending out from there to what we actually build etc. She too had excellent stories and examples from her work in Australia – and emphasised the strategies required to bring whole communities on board.
Mark Osborne gave a NZ perspective, providing examples of new schools around NZ that he is familiar with, and providing some excellent frameworks for ensuring leadership in this process.
Following the seminar we proceeded into the expo area by which time the exhibits were all set up, and the exhibitors, along with a number of invited guests and dignitaries, met together for a reception where we had an opportunity to welcome them and introduce everyone to the work of CORE and what we have to offer in the area of MLE development.
The day began early on Saturday 8th with teams of CORE staff and the exhibitors doing the final preparation before we welcomed the public in at 10am. I have to confess to having had a sleepless night, worrying about whether we'd actually have enough people go through the expo to make it worthwhile. I didn't have to worry – people were lining up at the door before 10am, and the streams of teachers, principals, BoT members, parents, kids and other interested parties continued to come through the door throughout the day – estimates of the number who actually visited range as high as 5000 – but we have yet to have that confirmed 😉
Inside the hall we had the following..
- a series of speakers in the speakers corner – we had 60 seats set up, and very seldom were there any empty ones there, in fact, most times, there was standing room only inside the enclosure
- 19 exhibitors, featuring architects, ICT providers, video conferencing, energy savings specialists etc etc. The feedback from these people was extremely positive – I managed to speak with every group and all felt the opportunity was extremely valuable for them as a provider – plus they all had positive things to say about the event as a whole and were all keen to continue a relationship with CORE!
- a full size outline of a MLE on the centre floor – based on an actual school plan which was displayed for people to consider. The MLE was a large space capable of catering for up to 100 students, so provided the opportunity for visitors to visualise just how that might work in a real school setting
- on the MLE outline we had two specialist furniture providers with a range of items for people to sit on, move around and generally experiment with
- at one end we had a group of students with computers using Minecraft to design and create their own version of a MLE
- at the other, Kevin Honeycutt worked with students from two schools to 'create a school on Mars' – an elaborate design and build activity using all sorts of cardboard and plastic components
- we also had a lunch time interlude with music provided by the Chisnallwood Intermediate Jazz Band
It's difficult to fully capture the feeling that existed in the expo for the full six hours that it was on, but to say that everyone I spoke to at the end described a mix of 'exhilaration and exhaustion' would pretty much sum it up. There were plenty of photographs taken, plus the CORE video team were there to capture a lot of the event on video – so watch out on EdTalks for those once they've been edited.
In addition, the Future Focused Education area of the CORE website (Under the Professional Learning link) is where a lot of the information is being put to show what is happening to follow on from this event.