Thoughts from Expanding Learning Horizons, 2011

Exploring ELH 2011

Screen Shot 2011 08 14 at 10 23 22 AM

Deep breaths… deep breaths!

I’ve just finished my session ‘Head in the Clouds,’ which explored strategic approaches to deploying, implementing and engaging schools from all walks of life in the use of cloud computing services like Live@Edu and Google Apps for Education. Now I need to catch my breath!

Expanding Learning Horizons has been a challenging and enriching experience for me professionally. Although I’m a good speaker, I’m an introvert at heart and lose a lot of energy quickly when I teach, meet new people, network and generally step outside my comfort zone. At the same time, meeting a lot of like-minded educators is an energising process – once I learn to just accept myself and let others accept me for who I am. Tricky stuff – but I’m always learning.

Some of the themes of the conference in which I’ve been particularly interested include:

– whether or not we’ve moved beyond 1-1 and whether it is still relevant

– how to make the most of the cloud in education

– how we move the teachers in our schools further towards purposeful/meaningful use of technology

– distilling so-called ‘twenty-first’ century skills and translating pedagogy into practice


Keep it Critical, Stupid

More than anything, I’ve enjoyed the Critical Conversation sessions with strategic leaders, principals, IT managers and business leaders. As a lowly teacher, I’m often ‘tuned out’ to higher-level decisions that, much of the time, I have very little interest in making (if ever given the chance – call it a Gen X distaste for the institution). My focus continues to be on grass roots, ground-up innovation and creativity, and putting the technology and the centre of learning the hands – both literal and metaphorical – of the students and teachers I teach. At the same time, I can’t fully disengage from these higher-level decisions, and thus find myself becoming ever more opinionated about approaches to integrating, implementing and realising technologies in teaching and learning. I’m particularly impressed by the work of Bruce Dixon and Travis Smith – and their relatively no-nonsense approaches to getting exciting things happening in schools.


Word on the Tweet

One of the highlights of the whole conference came during my session today. At the start, I had to come to terms with a room sparsely populated – about eleven people. Putting my best effort in, I began presenting and engaging the audience through a Google Doc ‘back-channel,’ the purpose of which was to let my audience determine the pace and focus of the session, clarify concerns, voice their own opinions and so on.

Within fifteen minutes, the room had swelled to about thirty-five participants. I continued, welcoming the new-comers and getting them set up with the tools as quickly as possible. My Computelec consultant, Tracey, was a brilliant assistant and host, and between us, we had everyone collaborating, discussing and sharing.

At the end of the session, I discussed my surprise at the swelling of numbers with Tracey. A gentlemen up the front overheard us.

“Oh – that was me.”

“Really?” I said.

“Yeah – I tweeted.”

It’s both exciting and heartening to think about how we can use social media professionally to spread good ideas. On this occasion, I’m so touched and delighted to think that I was the focus of a good idea!


I’m very grateful to Computelec and ELH for this opportunity. Meeting new people, building professional relationships and sharing in wisdom are all priceless experiences.




About Michael

Cellist, singer/songwriter, school teacher, nerd, recent scooter enthusiast and failed philosopher.
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