I’m at the 21st International Conference on Learning in New York City. This is very exciting as its my first international conference in a long time – since at least 2011. Its great to get out and about again so that I can find out what is happening in the sector and get some good ideas from across the world. I also love New York and have not been in the City without children for at least 8 years so this is exciting too 🙂 Shame about a rather big storm coming in and the weather being better at home, but hey you can’t have everything.
Sadly I missed the first day of the conference as I was at graduation so I flew out that night. I made up for it thought by working like a demon the entire flight and catching up on a load of things – sorry to all those who experienced my drive to clear my inbox by sending messages to them. I have however been able to attend the last two days of the conference and attended a rather eclectic mixture of papers. That is one of the positive things about this conference in that there are so many papers, and the subjects cover all teaching from kindergarten to University to EFL and special needs. So in a session with four papers you may get a real range of viewpoints. This mixture can also be a negative in that sometimes you can go to a session that then turns out to be less relevant but you are not quite sure from the titles and brief summaries.
There have though been some highlights which have generated some good ideas to take home:
- Learning through place session. This was presented by teachers in kindergarten/primary school about how they use the environment around the children to introduce a range of concepts. The examples I liked most were the use of bridges – looking at bridges in “real” life then taking this back into the classroom – and creating fairy houses which is a New England tradition. Whilst I don’t think I will necessarily be creating any fairy houses with staff soon, I did like the idea of bridges as a metaphor and something to think about in relation to our walking and learning work. They mentioned a book called Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv which I thought might be good to read.
- Training cook book tips. This session was presented by a trainer, Marc Ratcliffe, who used the metaphor of food – creating meals, recipes, cookbooks etc – to introduce various training techniques. It was a really well run session and had some interesting ideas. Things that struck me were the use of music/sounds to signal the end of an activity – getting people’s attention was something I struggled with at a recent team away day and ended up with a hoarse voice, so I think I need to raid the children’s musical box! Also some techniques for creating follow-up activities such as three things you will take away – or things you will definitely not do after the session.
- Presentation from Vivienne Griggs, Leeds Met Business School (nothing like going halfway around the world to go to a presentation from the UK!) on using various knowledge management techniques to engage students. She used three techniques to co-create knowledge with her students. Firstly, creating videos that were used for content in the course that harnessed students experiences such as how they had approached projects etc in their workplaces. Secondly, using case studies to bridge gaps in the literature that was very corporate and private sector focused. Thirdly, asking the students to formally share success stories and tips when they had completed the module with students who were just starting out. These are some ideas that I thought I could take back to the leading change module.
- Educational leadership session. This was more about school leadership but there was a case study from Australia about how they introduced an e-learning programme to change teacher practice. Given what I know about education in the UK its quite interesting to see similar trends around teacher development and standard testing of pupils causing concern in other countries. The common theme in the leadership session was the importance of modelling the way in terms of behaviours, so senior management demonstrating and “living” the behaviours they wish to see in others. Something that I try to do and is dear to my heart.
My session with Pam was obviously also a highlight 😉 but I will blog about that separately.