I like an event with a good buffet lunch, so the one at the Northants Better Learning Through Technology Development Day went down really well. It had a good mix of tastes, full of vitamins and didn’t leave me with a bloated, stuffed feeling.
The event was much the same: there was a good mix of teachers from across the county who were interested in sharing their use of technology in schools. We had some excellent practical demonstrations of how to use Web 2 tools in the classroom – that’s the vitamins bit of my overstretched analogy – and the schedule was light and refreshing, so my mind wasn’t left feeling bloated.
In the morning, Gareth Honeyford ran a fun, practical session on simple stop-mo animation and its use in the classroom. He also showed what some KS2 students had achieved and it was great to see a demonstration of what young people can achieve with technology, training and imagination.
After Gareth’s session, we broke for coffee and exotic fruit, and found time to tweet comments on the morning. Steven Bryant and Paul Bramble, the School’s excellent technical team, wired up the twitter feed to appear either side of the lecture room, so it was great to see all the positive comments. The tweets were also projected onto monitors in the building’s reception area, so staff from the School of Education were able to follow the stream even if they couldn’t make the event.
Following on from coffee, the highly creative, Peter Ford lead a short activity in which we shared in pairs our use of technology in practice. It was good to keep it practical and great to hear people’s experiences.
Helen Cauldwell followed Peter with some excellent resources on how to work creatively with text. She has a mountain of links, proving she is the Bookmark Queen. I know some of the resources she’s bookmarked, but there’s so many more I’ve never heard of – and I surf the web lots. I guess this proved one of the BLT core beliefs, that sharing between colleagues can have a massive impact on practice, saving hours of time spent trawling. One teacher listened to Helen’s intro to a specific web tool, used it on her school blog during the session, and then shared it in the afternoon’s TeachMeet-style sharing. I tweeted her effort and there you have the #northantsBLT vision working perfectly. These events are always crammed full of excellent resources but more importantly they allow teachers some time to test and try-out at least one thing before they have to jump back into the river and start paddling again.
After lunch, the whirlwind that is Tom Rees delivered a short talk about mobile technology and the current discussion of BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device. Should schools allow students to use their own mobile technology in a class setting? Tom offered a number of views, opinions and perspectives and has invited the #northantsBLT to contribute to a resource of experiences which we hope will have impact at a local level.
The final part of the afternoon gave everyone a 2 minute slot to share an aspect of their practice. Some interesting ideas came up and we’ll find share them on the BLT website. I had lots I wanted to share but my two minutes ran out far too quickly.
I’ve attended past BLT meetings held around the county, so I was keen for the University of Northampton to host one of their inspiring sessions, and I think we were 100% successful. The feedback has been excellent and we’re already talking about being a host again in the future. This was an amazing team effort from Steve Bryant, Paul Bramble, Gareth Honeyford and Helen Cauldwell, but a special thanks goes to Julie Martin, the School Manager for the School of Education, who generously offered to host the event in the School’s newly built Sulgrave building.
I am extremely proud of how the School of Education and the Learning Technology team worked together to put on this event, which people enjoyed and found inspiring. I think it was a great example of great learning through technology, and I am confident the colleagues who attended will go back to their schools with some new ideas and inspire their students..
See you at the next event.
My hopes for a good lunch are high.
TWEETS FROM THE DAY
If you haven’t already heard of it, BLT actually stands for Better Learning using Technologies, a ‘grass-roots’ network of teachers and educators from the county, focusing on how technology can enhance learning. They’re an inspirational group of individuals, mostly from the schools sector, who freely share their ideas and practice, with a view to identifying successful ‘pockets’ of innovation in teaching and learning and helping to make them part of common practice.
The group report regularly on projects and case studies – if you’re interested in knowing more about what they and their kids are doing with technology, check out the blogs (which are all collected on the website), twitter (search #NorthantsBLT) or attend one of the group meetings (think TeachMeet but with a specific technology slant).
I attended one of these meetings on Tuesday, held at the RM REAL Centre (Rethinking Education and Learning). The Centre has lots of examples of technology that can be used in schools, and really gave me an insight into the kinds of technologies kids will already be using, often as a matter of course, long before they arrive at university.
Imagine your kids using green screen filming to report ‘on location’, at the Houses of Parliament or the top of a volcano; using an iPod Touch to answer multiple choice questions in class, or to go out and take pictures which can be instantly shared on the whiteboard; using drag-and-drop software to program robots to perform tasks, or simple webcams to create animations…
The day was a lot of fun (as I’m sure you can imagine!) but it wasn’t just about play – this kit can help kids get to grips with the concepts or skills they need, and the NorthantsBLT network is busy making that happen.
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