In May 2011 I was lucky enough to go to my first Educational Technology conference. The conference was organized by Tim Keller and Arthur Preston and took place at the International School of Cape Town situated in Wynberg. I had been interested in the potential of Ed Tech to improve learning since 2010 when I came back to teaching after some time working in financial services. However this was the first time I truly began to understand the latent potential and under achievement in our Educational System. It was here that I realised that there were lots of other educators thinking about the same things as me and experiencing the same frustrations. I also encountered the concept of a Professional Learning Network(PLN) for the first time. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this concept alone has changed the course of my entire career.
I was also fortunate enough to be introduced to Twitter. At first sight it seemed rather peculiar to me as well as a tad overwhelming. It felt a lot like Tetris trying to keep up with everything and participate at the same time. Fortunately with gradual experimentation it started to make a lot more sense to me. As of today, Twitter is the main driver of my PLN and has introduced me to people and concepts I would never dreamed of before.
I was also introduced to Social Bookmarking. The tool I settled on was Diigo and I have used it ever since. It’s amazing how often I go back to my Diigo Library for inspiration and to find content that I know I have stored somewhere. It really has made a difference to me staying organized and prevented me from trying to print out a pile of papers a mile high.
Lastly probably the most important part of the conference was seeing the famous Ted Talk by Sir Ken Robinson , “Do Schools Kill Creativity”? I had sensed a lot of what he said for a long time in my career as an educator. But it was the first time I was presented was a unified framework for understanding why it was occurring. I continue to be a fan of his work.
As I reflect on this conference I am struck by how important it was to my development as a Teacher and how this one opportunity greatly contributed to the growth path I am on today in my career. I wonder how many other teachers there are out there have similar stories ? I hope as I moved forward in my career I can be part of creating similar moments for other educators and be part of reinvigorating what it means to get a good quality Education.