In an early post, http://dougwoods.co.uk/blog/handheld-learning/
I mentioned that I was attending the 2009 Handheld Learning Conference in London. I also mentioned that I was looking for four things;
- the chance to see new ideas and innovations
- opportunities to meet with people using technology in interesting and successful ways
- information to assess the future potential of handheld devices in education
- some fun, well why not!
So how did the conference measure up and did I meet my four goals?
Let me start by saying that this was one of themost interesting conferences I have been to in the field of education. It was spread over 3 days; the first day being taken up by a Handheld Festival showcasing some of the work people and schools have been doing. For me, the best part of the day was the Learners Y factor session hosted by Jason Bradbury
, he of the Gadget Show fame and also dot Robot (which sadly we didn’t get to see). This session showcased the work of several schools in using handheld technologies and was presented by the pupils themselves. It would be true to say that each of the schools were interesting and inspiring in what they demonstrated.
Earlier on the Monday, I had the priviledge of listening to a presentation given by Dawn Hallybone
about her work using Nintendo handhelds and Wii devices. Dawn is well known for her work and rightly so for she has done some fantastic work using handheld devices in education. I however was particularly interestedwhen she mentioned some new work in the pipeline using the Wii with dyspraxic learners.
I attended only part of the session organised by Mirandanet
. The problem was that there were so many sessions running in parallel, that it was impossible to attend to all the sessions I wanted to. This was a fascinating sesion and it is a shame that I missed the drawing up of the mind-map
but was able to listen in to the discussion afterwards. Thankfully the mind-map has been posted on the web and should be found by following the above link. There was one aspect of the discussion afterwards which was perhaps more depressing than anything; there was a small group of student teachers who were saying that their exposure to ICT in their teacher training was very limited andd, they felt, did not fully prepare them for teaching modern learners.
Sessions clashing and missing speakers I would have liked to see, was a factor on the second day. I managed to attend an inspiring session by Ollie Bray
, who has posted his presentation online
, but this meant, unfortunately, that I had to miss a fascinating session by John Davitt
. I also missed Tim Ryland’s
sesion, which was a great shame. I was, however, able to catch the session from Tony Vincent
, whose session came at the end of the day and after a few poorly presented sessions. Which is a great shame for I feel that many more could have benefited from his session.
The final day, Wednesday, was a packed day with 3 strands and various breakout sessions planned. The highlight of the day was probably the final speech by Ray Kurzweil at the end of the conference. He is an influential thinker, who I had only come across before as a result of his work in speech synthesis and recognition. His work, though goes a lot deeper and this session he chose to focus upon his work into the exponential development of technology. This work, I feel has a major importance for those of us in educational ICT. We often complaiabout how slow the world of educationchanges whereas the world of ICT changes rapidly, well Kurzweil’s work suggests that the ICT world will continue to change even more rapidly as it changes exponentially, rather than linearly. So in the future can we expect to see more of a gap between the technology and the pedagogy?
So did the conference help me achieve the four goals I set out before attending? I would say it did. I certainly had many opprotunities to see some new ideas and also to meet people. I certainly also got a lot of information bout how handheld technologies might be used in future education but any assessment of this will have to wait for a while! and was there any fun? yep!
As an addendum to this post. I am am planning to attend the 2010 Games Based learning conference in London. Hopefully, this will further develop my enthusiasm for handheld devices in education and also allow me to discover ways in which computer games can be used to support learning.