Today I had the great privilege of participating in a set of workshops like I have never participated in before. I am in Wellington for the annual Association of Integrated Schools' (@aisNZ) conference. This would be about my 6th time at this conference and whilst they have aways been good and I have always come home having learnt something new, it has always been a very passive experience, I sit while someone stands at the front of the room and tells us all the things we should know...BUT NOT TODAY!
The conference delegates were split randomly into teams of four and given the task of writing a set of guiding principles to give to a new principal appointed to start their new imaginary school. The task had to be published in iBooks Author and delegates had to seek out the new information from various presenters. The amazing people from Apple came and completed training on how to use iBooks Author and provided some gear to make it all possible.
There were several different stations set up that delegates needed to go to get the information. Some of the stations ran15 minute presentations, some were for 30 minutes and there were people set up to consult one to one in ten minute slots. There were presentations on all sorts from creating a culture of Professional Learning, what is a Modern Learning Environment, governance vs management, educational gaming philosophy and stations from the Ministry of Education to name a few.
What I observed was a conference room full of completely engaged delegates who took their 'task' seriously. People you were interacting with the presenters, they were interacting with other delegates who they most likely would not have made the effort to interact with and people were coming to the attention of others who had areas of expertise.
There were other interesting variables, such as the digital dinosaurs. A group that was not able to use any technology. A group that was not able to participate with the presenters -they stayed in a separate room and got all their information from the activity website and the very active twitter feed. Each groups was required to completed 10 tweets an hour and there was even a financial economy that was set up for the event so groups could purchase assistance if required.
Whilst the afternoon flew past and there simply was not enough time to complete a polished iBook, that was not the goal. Plenty of information was past on for one person to the next and delegates were in the active learner's shoes for the afternoon.
Well done Carl Becker for the outstanding organisations and excellent work Mark Larson for trying something new.