Whilst working for Microsoft, I have had some great opportunities. One of the things that has had the biggest impact has been the people I have met. I am convinced that it would have been very unlikely that I would have met or even heard about such people when I was in the classroom. This thought is often echoed by the teachers I speak to, who have often not heard of people I mention. I thought I'd use this post to share the names of the people who have influenced me this year.
How many of you have seen the video of Sir Ken Robinson discussing the need for creativity in schools? Many teachers are still not aware of it, despite the profusion of references to it across the internet. Sir Ken’s speech had a powerful impact on me personally, as he describes many of the things I was frustrated with and sought to change in my 20 years as a teacher, and I am sure many other teachers would feel the same.
MediaSnackers are the guys that help organisations think how to utilise social media. They are led by the charismatic DK, who got me thinking about how to use social media platforms like Twitter to inform and support teachers. He is also Welsh; no more needs to be said on that. Check out their latest project, ‘The web makes me feel’
More often than not you don’t have to look far and wide to find great influencers. Ray Fleming is the Education Marketing Manager at Microsoft UK, and in a ‘older brother’ sort of way, introduced me to the ‘Shift Happens’ video. I suspect many of you are aware of that video already, but I know many of you are not. I spoke recently with a close head teacher friend who was looking to inspire his staff. He had never seen it and was happy to see that it had all the messages he wanted to share.
I talked about the work of John Davitt and in particular his Random Event Generators in a recent post. I am currently reading his book ‘New Tools for Learning’. This is full of great ideas and has even reminded me of how it great it is to be in a classroom. I was lucky enough to be able to try some of them out with a primary school class recently. The idea of receiving a ‘minitifcate,’ or in our case a ‘Microtificate,’ (a certificate no bigger than 2cm x 2cm) as a reward may not at first seem like a motivating factor. But students in the class I worked with couldn’t wait to receive one, and the quality of the work they produced was outstanding.
We have done a lot of work with schools in developing innovative teachers networks and have found that where they are the most successful when the whole school is involved. That requires someone at the heart of the school to encourage, drive and even drag people along with them. Dave Garland is one of these drivers; he has a vision of technology use that is based in supporting and enhancing teaching and learning. (Although, I'm not sure where his robotic vacuum cleaner fits in to that model!) Dave has successfully been able to overcome the obstacles to the use of social media in the classroom. He has been able to integrate the social network sites Ning and Twitter into the school curriculum. One of his most recent projects is the use of Twitcam to broadcast live from the school. You can see an example here
Whenever you mention the name Tim Rylands, more often than not the response is ‘the Myst man’. I met Tim recently at an event in London, where he made it quite clear that he is more than just the ‘Myst man’. Tim describes himself as ‘being slightly famous, and getting away with it before anyone rumbles him’. In the half hour or so that I listened to his inspirational and motivating enthusiasm for engaging learners, I came away with a list of ideas and resources. (All of which are available on his blog It's worth checking it out and seeing for yourself that he is not a one-man game.
You may notice that this is a list of all men -- why is that? Who are the women who are influencing ICT and its integration into the curriculum? Am I not attending the right conferences? Help me out here...
Nevertheless, add a great lunch to the speakers in this list and and for me, you would have the ideal ICT conference. As our thoughts are beginning to turn towards planning the next UK Innovative Teachers Forum, we would welcome your suggestions of those who have influenced your teaching.