On Wednesday evening I went along to TeachMeet and the TeachEat that follows. I’ve been lucky enough to have watched TeachMeets evolve (at least in Scotland, not made it out of the country yet) and this was one of the best yet.
As usual the event was organised on a wiki by a bunch of volunteers. The lead organiser this year was David Noble of booruch fame. David, in consultation with others made a couple of changes to the program, in addition to the familiar 7 & 2 minute presentations we had a session of Round table workshops and one of World Cafe discussions. at these points we broke out into groups for various discussions.
On the night
The presentations were all great, covering a wide variety of topics mostly with some sort of ict input. All the ones that discussed ict in the classroom however had an extra dimension the ict was just part, perhaps an enabling part, of the project:
- Ian Stuart discussed using Google Sketchup with International Connections, but the project included children making traditional drawings as a starting point and the stand out point for me was the way Ian’s pupils exceeded his expectations.
- Colin Maxwell talked about Charity events for teamworking and citizenship at college level, a great ideas that would equally fit into primary or secondary school. I’d didn’t catch if the video of the zombie walk is available but I hope it is.
- Margaret Vass spoke of her work with Glow Blogs and ePortfolios, Margaret is probably the most experienced primary blog runner in the country. Her ability to see and explain the good stuff that happens in teaching & learning is brilliant. Her post about the presentation: Glow Blogs and ePortfolios? should be read by anyone wondering if primary blogging is worthwhile.
- Sean Farrell‘s 2 minutes on ‘Logging into Glow: making it accessible to 5 year olds’ made me wish that more folk from LTS had been in the audience. Glow really needs this and needs it yesterday: simple safe logon for wee ones who find typing a glow username such as gw09johnstonjohn4 and a 8 character password (with one char not aphpanumeric) a bit difficult. From the number of teacher logins I’ve reset password for some of the rest of us could do with this too.
The big problem with the round tables was deciding which one to go to. I choose Jennifer Harvey – Setting up a QR treasure hunt which triangulated well with 2 of my favourite 7 minute presentations David Muir –TeachMeet@SLF2010: QR Codes in Education and Jen Deyenberg – GPS and Geocaching – #TSMSLF2010. We are lucky to have Jen in Scotland. I am very interested in GPS in and outside education. Both QR codes and geocaching lend themselves to the mixing up of being outdoors and using technology.
Jennifer’s round table proved to be the highlight of my TeachMeet and SLF she had, in 10 minutes, introduced me to some new iphone apps, got a table full of teachmeeters running round the room collecting audio, video and images and in true TeachMeet fashion had changed her gig to incorporate a pice of software she had found the day before. (some of the results: stickybits » barcode » Jenny not singing For the record my first video in this stickybit is useful).
Catching Up with TMSLF2010
If you missed TMSLF2010 or you want to remind yourself about it there are several ways to do so:
- Fergal, who did a great job of keeping the presentations coming, created a posterous site: tmslf2010’s posterous which attendees were asked to populate by mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, so far there are photos from the night, presentations and recording from presenters.
- I recorded all the presentation audio on my iRiver and am slicing it and posting to EDUtalk (and cross posting to tmslf2010’s posterous), this might take a bit of time.
- There was a considerable amount of tweeting: Twitter / Search – #tmslf2010
- David Muir organised the FlashMeeting and you can watch the recording.
The Future of TeachMeet
The last part of TeachMeet was the World Cafe 9 tables discussing different topics. Again I would have liked to go to several, but went to How can we help TeachMeet evolve? which I was facilitating.
This topic is not oe we could reach many conclusions on. I recorded the audio and posted it to Edutalk: TeachMeet Evolution World Cafe (direct link to audio:
TeachMeet Evolution ). There is a lot of background noise, 8 other World Cafes were going on at the same time.
Some of the points taken given:
- TeachMeet has always changed/is always changing.
- teachMeets can be small, someone had one in their living room.
- TeachMeet needs to be scalable.
- Local is good.
- If there is a committee set up to take care of the TeachMeet brand do we have to ask/bid for funds from the committee. This perhaps gives to much power to a group.
- Sponsors need to get something back. At the moment this is a mention on the wiki and thanks at TM
We had only just started scraping the surface of this when we ran out of time.
The general TeachMeet conversation continued at TeachEat. I was sitting across the table from @eylanezekiel (Head of BrainPOP UK) and we continued to discuss (I don’t think much damage was done) the relationship of TeachMeet to its sponsors. I can’t recall the detail of the discussion well enough to quote them but I was pushed to think about TeachMeet in different ways and try to articulate my perhaps individual position:
- Personally I think of TeachMeet as a way to recharge my batteries rather than something that needs to grow and expand.
- I like the unconference principals & ideas.
- I can also see the value of smaller TeachMeets.
- I liked the original idea which assumed that everyone who turned up was willing to speak if drawn out of the hat. A nice leveller.
- I dislike the idea that some folk should keynote without facing the draw.
- Although I like free beer and nice spaces provided by sponsors I have a knee-jerk reaction agains goodie-bags. I’d be happy with less salubrious venus and paying my way to avoid these.
- Back to basics might be an idea, just meet up and chat.
- One size does not fit all we should Let a thousand flowers bloom.
- Organising TeachMeets is quite a burden and usually falls on mainly one person.
- @eylanezekiel mentioned that BrainPop had offered to improve on the wiki to make it easier for folk to sign up. While I agree the Wiki is getting a bit of a mess (I deleted dozens of spam pages a while ago), I do not think a particular company should take responsibility for organising TeachMeet. It would be good to have clearer organisation. Perhaps an idea is for the central wiki to list upcoming TeachMeets, but each teachMeet provides a wiki or site to facilitate the organisation. This would allow individual TeachMeets to use a tool provided by say BrainPop or create their own wiki or use another system altogether. TeachMeets would not be limited to one page and would be easier to navigate. The sites could also be a repository for recordings, links to blog posts, resources etc.
- @eylanezekiel also mentioned the difficulty in try to help with sponsoring TeachMeet when there is not a central body (herding cats was mentioned), again I see this as an advantage. If there is no central body it cannot be taken over by a group or faction.
- The lack of a central body also should allow for different approaches to take place.
- Nothing stops anyone running a similar or different event with a similar or different title. They might get a bit of a reaction from the TeachMeet community (whatever that is)
Like TeachMeet as a whole these ideas are well though through but I am betting that is not too important, TeachMeet from the evidence of TMSLF2010 is alive & well. I also bet that I could enjoy and learn from a event that went against all of my preferences.