(Posted by Dughall)
Yesterday I had a long but incredibly satisfying day in Bradford.
In 2009 I attended the first bMobLe conference run by Education Bradford making my way through the snows of West Yorkshire. The same conference this year could not have been hosted in more benign meteorological conditions.
The promise was as follows: “The bMobLe “Next Generation Learning” Conference 2010 aims to share best practice and suggest ways that mobile technologies can be integrated appropriately into the classroom.” That promise was certainly met.
The initial keynote presentation was by Tim Rylands. The man is a giant in my estimation for his inspirational ideas and his passion for language, literacy, technology and, well, high quality, honest-to-goodness learning. Tim eschews what he calls the ‘(aero)plane’ model of learning in which learners are asked to “Come in, sit down, face the front and belt up”. He also believes that “excellence & enjoyment is not just something you do on a Friday afternoon”. Like me, he is a big fan of the mix of analogue and digital but, most importantly, that there is no substitute for real life. For a glimpse of the impact Tim has on an audience, visit his blog here and look at the expressions on people’s faces in the slideshow near the top of the page. Those faces say it all! Throughout the keynote, we were also treated to a plethora of fantastic (mostly free) resources that are available here http://linkbun.ch/y2bz
After coffee, we enjoyed another dose of Mr Rylands, this time with assistance from his equally impressive sidekick Sarah Neild. The break out was titled ‘Using ICT to Inspire: Raising levels of creativity in children of all abilities.’ Key messages I received were reminders to educators: to take their time, not be afraid to join with learners in the journey, and to not forget children’s almost boundless capacity to absorb information. It was another thoroughly engaging session.
In a short slot before lunch, I spent some time talking to pupils from a couple of Bradford primary schools about their experiences of one-one devices (netbooks in one case, PDAs in another). I was interested to learn that these devices were used at home and at school, often connected to the internet at home via a wireless connection. I was also interested to learn about the sorts of activities in which the devices were used and how they were used. “Whenever we need to.” “To do Powerpoint.” “To send and receive messages.” “We have to bring them to school fully charged or we get in trouble.” “I would prefer an ipod touch (to the PDA).” “I like to play ‘photo-wars’ (on the PDA).”
I enjoyed a stimulating lunch with Nick Jackson, Doug Belshaw, and David Mitchell where (amongst other things) we discussed the problems of using definitions such as ‘Digital natives/immigrants’, ‘Digital literacy’, ‘E-learning’ etc. Maybe more on that another time.
After lunch, I had a necessary and enjoyable session with Nicola Stables, my co-presenter for an afternoon breakout titled ‘Out of the Game’. Our session promised ‘to examine the opportunities for learning that arise beyond the game itself. After a week on Safari, this Year 3 class have done more than just track animals. Find out more about how a Wii console, a game, careful planning and reflection can foster collaboration, communication, team work and the development of language in a group of enthusiastic learners. Having a games console in your classroom is about so much more than playing games. Every class should have one!’
I have been lucky enough to spend some time recently with Nicola and her class using the Nintendo Wii and the game, ‘African Safari’. She has done a much better job than I could do here in explaining the project via her blog (Specific posts mentioning the Wii can be found here). Nicola spoke brilliantly about the learning that took place ‘beyond’ the game itself: the social skills, the collaboration, the language, the opportunities for cross curricular links etc. I chipped in occasionally with my observations about what I had seen the children get from the sessions. It was heartening to have heard so many similar messages delivered by Tim earlier in the day.
The final session of the day included a stunning presentation about the largest cave in the world (in Vietnam) accompanied by some amazing photography and last of all, a voting-pad evaluation of the conference.
However, the day was far from over. There were 90 minutes to kill before the Bmoble Teachmeet. What better way to spend it than back in the sunshine tackling Tim’s Teachmeet Try-cycle Tryout. I wonder what folks must have thought at the sight of grown men hurtling around the carpark like infants on the tricycle. I suppose it was fitting and in the spirit of fun that seemed to pervade the day.
The teachmeet itself was (as these things always are) incredible. Everyone who stood up and spoke was inspring and engaging. Special mentions go to Doug Belshaw for a jaw-dropping 124 slides in 7 minutes, David Mitchell’s brilliant use of Voicethread, and Emma Barker breaking her Teachmeet duck to share the excellent work she has done at Netherthong with the Nintendo DS.
I returned home head-buzzing!
Many, many thanks to James Langley and all the Education Bradford team (and all the others) for putting on such a great event!
Some other reflections on Bmoble can be found here: