“CESI on tour” was welcomed again on Friday May 10th to the Thurles campus of LIT by the amazing Pamela O’Brien and her team. As ever the place was sparkling for us on arrival, both aesthetically and technically!
We normally don’t do party political broadcasts at CESImeets, but I had just heard (or read on Twitter) the emerging story of the Russell Tarr attack by UK Minister for Education Michael Gove. We use the generous Russell’s Fruit Machine and Countdown timers at CESImeets, so it was only fair that I used my Bean a Tí status to rustled (ouch) up a bit of support for him at the start of the evening. (Hence the strange appearance of many Mr Men and Little Miss avatars on the #edchatie timeline afterwards. I have got very fond of my Little Ms Self Portrait, and who knows I may even keep her).
The first part of the evening was the Marshmallow Challenge, something I have used with students but never with adults – a much more unruly lot. We had all sorts of strange structures appear inside and outside of the auditorium. We had the usual hares and tortoises, and it was the latter who were finally declared the winners – the coolest trio in the house – Catherine Cronin, Gráinne Conole and Conor Galvin at a modest but reliable 24cm!!
A fabulous main Spot Prize of a class set of Show Me boards – donated by staunch CESI supporter James Crook – was won by a worthy Mary Jo Bell @7MJB, who charmed and humbled us us all with examples of the use her Junior Infants make of tech in their learning. Watch this space to see @MrsBellsClass as they go with the mini whiteboards…
We broke into four groups for Soap Box session – we had Bill Quinn, CEO at LPI UK on using Raspberry Pi, Stephen (the saloon door gunslinger version of @saorog who literally arrived at the very moment his name was called!!) Howell on Leap Motion for Math, John Heffernan (@johnmayo) on his usual round of fabulous ideas, and Bianca Grogan (@groganbee) with her ideas for the Flipped Classroom. I sat in on the Raspberry Pi corner and gathered some good ideas – thanks Bill!
We then broke for some really Fab Finger Food – nice one once again Pam. (We took the remaining platters with us to scoff at the Apres Meet in the Anner. Yum)
Other speakers to have their names on the Fruit Machine were – Conor Galvin (@_conorgalvin) using imaginative visual prompts for storytelling through online journeys, Joe Dale (@joedale) on a lighting tour of iPad apps, Marco Booth on a new eLearning startup called FRED, @johnmayo online subtitling your own old movies, Helen Bullock (@anseoamuinteoir) on her forthcoming crowdsourced book called #howIlearn, and via Skype, the ‘Knitmeister’ @stevebunce whom I am convinced I must know from a former life, and certainly wish to meet in a future life. Steve ran us though our purls and plains and how they can help introduce our students to computational thinking.
Our CESI Chair Adrienne Webb (@dublinwebb) closed the evening and ushered us all back to the Apres Meet in Anner Hotel bar. We saw the very wee small hours – I really enjoyed chewing the fat with Martha Rotter (@martharotter), James Crook, and our “Bring A Teacher To Twitter” #batttie recruit Anne Marie Killen (now better known as @iveraghbuz10). And so to bed to recharge batteries for….
Pamela and her team put a great day of learning together for us with the theme of “Student Voices”. She gets the best out of us all – witness the Youth Media Team mentored by Conor Galvin, Joe Dale and Bernie Goldbach (@topgold). They live blogged and podcasted the day as it unfolded, and we were once again charmed and humbled by their grace under fire. We had three amazing women to address us as keynotes over the day – Catherine Cronin, Gráinne Conole (@gconole) and Martha Rotter. Each made us sit up and think. And think. We were reminded to begin building our side of the bridge. Have you started? I think I have. My thanks to all three of you.
Ann McSorley of iResource gave a workshop with good ideas on discussing online safety with teenagers. Stephen Howell of Kinect2Scratch gave a master class in engaging students with higher order thinking using Scratch, Kinect and Leap Motion. Then I joined forces with Eugene McDonough and Geraldine Exton to present “what Coderdojo has meant to us” to date, and discuss / answer queries on the future direction it might take. Our attendees were very receptive, and very good questions were raised and discussed. Coderdojo is an evolving rollercoaster ride, with very very many wonderful people collaborating worldwide. Rollercoasters scare me, but in this one I feel brave enough to hang on to because it is worth it.
In contrast to our colleagues in the UK, we have the support of our junior Minister for Education Ciaran Cannon (@ciarancannon) who shows interest in and supports our work – thanks Minister, for staying and playing with us all day.
One of the brightest highlights of the afternoon was a Skype join-in by last year’s Keynote duo, Ira Socol and Pam Moran. It was a thrill to hear Pam’s warm Virginia tones, and as for Ira addressing us from his car – is that the most surreal address ever to a conference? For me at least, Yes – and I loved it!
One of the best things about #ictedu is the chance to relax with CESI friends – instead of flying past each other at CESI conference or CESImeet, here we get the opportunity to chill and learn together [*waves at* Adrienne, both John H’s (@jhegarty, @johnmayo), Enda (@donenda), Nigel (@NL_84), Hellie (@anseoamuinteoir) and Pat S!]
So thank you again Pam and team – from CESI and from me (@magsamond). You are a force of nature, and together we rock!