Yesterday, Stuart and I and our teammates from Microsoft gathered with our colleagues from SSAT, Shireland Learning to welcome over 75 educators to Birmingham for our Innovative Teachers Forum. As Stuart has mentioned, this year’s Forum was our biggest and best yet. We received more VCTs from you for consideration in our awards, we had more people attending the forum than ever before, and we had a day full of highlights from our amazing keynote speaker (John Davitt) and our workshop leaders. The entire day was buzzing with conversation (in-person and on Twitter #itf09), and I have heard nothing but positive feedback from those who attended.
After registering and receiving the requisite goodie bag (which this year was a nice computer bag that included a copy of John Davitt’s new book, a USB stick and some other free things), all attendees assembled for a welcome by Steve Beswick (our director of Education at Microsoft), and John’s keynote. I was definitely in the minority in the room, in that I had never seen John speak before. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk, which John later described to me as a bunch of thought-provoking ideas that you could “store in the right brain for later.” Some of the nuggets I took away:
- Shopping is more important than learning in today’s society. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all get feedback on our learning the same way we get feedback on eBay profile?
- Curriculum should be many paths to the same destination
- Wouldn’t it be great if students got the same prompts for learning that we get when we purchase something on Amazon? (Students who learned this, might also be interested in this topic…)
We also heard about many, many new tools available for free for use in the classroom. This continued in the first workshop I attended, given by our own Stuart and Dave Garland, from saltash.net community school in Cornwall. Educators in that session never stopped taking notes as Stuart and Dave listed free software, Web sites, and other applications for use in education, along with examples of how the tools are being used today. (All of these will be posted on the Partners in Learning Network for anyone to share.)
For the afternoon workshop, I also attended John Davitt’s workshop, which is well described by Ollie Bray on his blog. My group used the random activity generator to put three words in local dialect into a 20-second audio file. (Not as exciting as the knitting Ollie and his group are working on at left, but still fun.)
There were lots of opportunities for networking and for educators to look at the VCTs of our 14 award- winners. After a question and answer session with all of our workshop presenters, we had our awards ceremony. Microsoft selected four teachers to join us in Berlin in March for the European Innovative Teachers Forum. This was not an easy decision, trust me. After much deliberation, we ended up with these four teachers:
- Dave Rogers (Priory School Specialist Sports College) Pirates and social networking
- Simon Horleston (Howe Dell Primary School) EcoVids
- Amy Lewis (saltash.net community school) Heroes
- Jan Webb (Weston Village Primary School) A classroom without walls
We also awarded Dave Garland with a “special award” to be given to a person in a school who may not actually submit VCTs, but is responsible for the vision and drive behind ICT integration. Dave will be joining us in Berlin as a judge for the European Forum.
All in all, it was a fantastic day. Stuart and I are already planning for next year, when we hope the event will be even bigger and even better. We would love your suggestions for location or ideas for speakers and workshops, so feel free to send them our way or post them to the Partners in Learning Network.
Congratulations to all of the teachers who won awards at the Forum yesterday. We’re continually impressed by the amazing work UK educators are doing in the classroom every day.