I’ll admit it – I’m jealous. I’m a bit green-eyed about the BETT Show 2015 conference that has been going on in London over the past few days. The BETT Show is the UK’s leading educational technology event, featuring sponsored talks and events, teacher-led workshops and demonstrations, student presentations and more.
As with so many conferences, it isn’t the flashy new gadgets that really inspire me. They’re cool, don’t get me wrong, but a bigger interactive whiteboard might pique my nerdy interest but doesn’t touch my soul. A new homework app might be handy but it probably won’t make me a better teacher or learner in a deep sense. Tools aren’t inspiring until they’re like wands in the hands of wizards. Even in Harry Potter, the wand needed the wizard before it would be truly powerful.
Conferences still have their place in the professional learning landscape for educators. If someone was (and I’m sure has already) to develop a matrix for paid/free, valuable/worthless, teacher-driven/top-down, artificial/organic, professional learning experiences, conferences such as the Bett Show – merely on the basis of popularity and the tweetstream – would seem to have a firm place in the field.
Professional learning is indeed a landscape. It may shift and change and the weather may be unpredictable, but it is not a single, narrow pathway along which teachers must walk to a singular promised land of educational enlightenment. How boring would that be?
In fact, we need teachers to have different experiences, read different research, have arguments and debate (in a productive manner) and use different approaches to be the thriving, critical and self-reflective profession that we must be. If you need any evidence as to why we need to be as creative and critical and compassionate as possible, check out this video on how advanced computers have become and what they can do – what impact might this have on what students “must be taught” in the 21st century?
So by following the #Bett15 tweet stream and seeing colleagues-from-another-campus like @digitalmaverick and @darrenmurphy (plus of course the great learning champions of our time like @stephenheppell) jumping in and sharing ideas on various stages, I certainly did impose a green filter to my view of Twitter over the recent days.
The part I really do wish I had been able to get to was #TMBett15 or the TeachMeet Takeover. Each year a few keen educators get together to claim a space at the Bett Show in order to run a more chaotic, organic, teacher-centred series of talks in the types of a TeachMeet. Talks are random, short, sharp and you get off the stage when your time is up. Like any TeachMeet, it allows for plenty of ideas to be shared in a short amount of time, followed by lots of interaction and networking.
I wonder, if you had a crowd of educators in front of you from different schools and who had different experiences and abilities and interests, what idea would you share? What one piece of advice or research or experience or inspiration would you want to share with those in the room? We’re starting a new year and, like me, you may not have a Bett Show size conference at which to present, but I like to think that we all have something to learn and we all have something to share.
Please add your ideas (or green eyed ears) into the comments below and/or tweet, post, and share them with others!
Check out http://www.bettshow.com/ or #Bett15 (or #Bett2015) for more about the conference. Also see http://www.teachmeet.pbworks.com for UK teachmeets, http://www.teachmeet.net for Aussie ones and http://tmsydney.wikispaces.com for those happening in Sydney town.