Friday, 29 August 2014

#edchatnz Conference 2014

I was full of good intentions to post some thoughts on the #edchatnz conference last week but, by some weird, cosmic coincidence, last week was also my first one as an employed (albeit part-time) teacher. Good timing in many ways but finally having an actual class to teach has tended to dominate my thoughts over the last few weeks and it has taken me a while to revisit my #edchatnz experience.

And what a great couple of days it was. Packed full of interesting content, the only downside was that there were many sessions that I just couldn't fit in. The ones I did attend were:

Network for Learning & Pond

I had heard of Pond but knew little about it so that was my reason for choosing this session. The first part of the session was more a pitch for the company rather than information that I would find useful. I could have done with far less of that. Once the speaker got onto Pond, things got much more interesting. The three column search concept sounded useful and the idea of teachers being able to recommend resources will hopefully add value. I was sitting next to a current user of Pond who was far from convinced but I saw enough in the session to want to dive in and see for myself.

Digital Citizenship

Turns out that digital citizenship isn't what I thought it was (although it is more what I thought it should be). This was a very engaging session with quite a bit of audience feedback. My big takeaway from this presentation was the importance of teaching and modelling good online practice so that as children start to explore more on their own, they have the skills they need to manage their own safety.

Political Debate

Unfortunately, I had to leave early and missed most of this. It was much more interesting than I had expected.

Cultivating Identity and Community Through Gamification

I had seen Bronwyn Stuckey at  the sessions I attended on Friday so was surprised to see her as a presenter. I really liked this session. I had heard of gamification so it was interesting to hear Bronwyn's take on it (she prefers the term "game inspired"). The main points I took away:
  • should be opt in
  • not everything needs to be a game (and it would be tedious if it were)
  • when you level up, you get responsibility
  • the importance of community and relationships

Modern Learning Environments in Every Classroom

The main point of this session was that modern learning environments do not depend on cool furniture but on pedagogy. I certainly want to learn more about My Learning (Emma Winder).

Curiosity and Creativity in the Classroom

This was a very stimulating session by Steve Mouldey. His discussion on brainstorming made me rethink a lesson I had planned for my new class (and I think it was much better as a result).


I came away from this session much more impressed than I expected. I gave Booktrack a brief go (as a reading experience) a few months ago and quickly decided that reading with a soundtrack was not for me. Of course, not everyone is me so I went to investigate with an open mind. I was surprised to find that Booktrack doesn't only supply soundtracks, it also allows you to create your own. I was pretty excited about the possibilities in the classroom for this and hope to use it in the near future!


These short snippets do not do justice to the stimulating material that was presented at #edchatnz. The organisers do a fantastic job and this (unemployed at the time of registration) teacher certainly appreciated the insanely cheap price. Can't wait until next year!

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