Reflecting on (the back end of) #RSCON3

3 08 2011

First of all I have problems knowing which section of my blog to post this in.  Should I put it in Printing Press, because hopefully it will be added to the great other reflections on the conference available at: http://preview.tinyurl.com/3mgat9s

Should I include it in Running Roads since I attended in place of going for a run, nursing my swollen foot while attending sessions on Assessment, Metacognitive Learning, The Future of Education and the fast, furious and fun Technological Smackdown?  And even though I didn’t run, the conference still left me flowing with thoughts like some fresh air and a lake normally do.

Or should I put it in Loving Language, since I haven’t got much in there yet and it was my love of language and teaching language which drew me to the conference in the first place.  In fact I could even put it in Singing Songs, since the conference ended in a lovefest of mutual appreciation and thanks for others blood, sweat and tears that almost inspired us to break into song (and there may still be some at the post-conference shindig next weekend).

In the end it doesn’t matter.  The conference could go anywhere and help anyone and be everything to everyone.  In fact I was never quite sure what it was trying to be and maybe it was that lack of trying combined with that determination to help, to share (Great sharing: http://preview.tinyurl.com/3utbagz), to inspire that made the conference such a success.

I could only attend the conference on Sunday, the last of the three days, but when the call went out earlier in the week for more moderators to help I was only too happy to oblige, it would make me feel more part of a conference which went far beyond EFL and I’d be able to put my experience with the Elluminate platform towards an excellent cause.  In the end I wasn’t needed, but it was nice to know they knew I cared.

As for content, I caught the end of the panel on assessment, which only made me wish I’d got up earlier and caught more of it.  And #CeciELT’s blog post on her views on the subject only augmented that view.  It was heartening to see broad agreement with my chatbox opinions – it’s not testing’s fault that testing is so discreet and objective.  We need to change the syllabus first and encourage our students to think more rather than just regurgitate facts and others’ opinions, then changing our modes of assessment will follow on more smoothly.

Technology smackdown was a lot of fun and gave me a list of websites to check out and see if they’ll help me help my students in future, or are worth passing on to colleagues.  The names I remember are:

Live binders – is it a portfolio online?

Todaysmeet – closed twitter tool

Posterous and Voice Menu – blog and voice recording?

Diigo – social bookmarking

Big think .com

Pic Lit

Glogster

Zimmer twins

Automatoon

Tenmarks

As always with this kind of thing, it’s what you do with it after the event itself that makes it all worthwhile – which is why I suggested ‘How are you going to follow up on RSCON3?’ as an #eltchat topic for this week, should be a good conversation come Wednesday evening.

Next up I kept one ear on Paula White’s keynote ‘Who directs the learning?’ while watching England run India ragged in the Second Test at Trent Bridge.  I’m sorry, Paula, but you just couldn’t compete and we all know the students direct the learning anyway.

And then I chipped in quite a bit on the chat about Dave Dodgson’s session on error correction and writing feedback.  We share many ideas about correcting student’s work being a very different kettle of fish to giving them feedback on their work.  Although I was surprised to hear Dave not go beyond content as an area to feedback on (I’ve always been a big CROAT fan myself, but maybe that’s for a blogpost in itself, or an #RSCON4 session later in the year?).

Another keynote next – it was an excellent idea to switch from sessions to keynote and back again, the format never seemed to get tired (although it was tiring for some of the stalwart organisers, I think it was around now that @shellterrell took an unplanned nap).  Steve Hargadon, who seems to be a big boss at Elluminate and who donated all of the Elluminate rooms for the conference, kept me rapt while he discussed what a Teacher 2.0 is and outlined the increasing say we have in education, how bottom-up is becoming more the way forward thanks to the democratising effect of technology (at least that’s the way I remember it, perhaps I should refer back to tweets for a more accurate remembrance).

Then I was all geared up to help moderate Dr Timony’s session on Tacit Knowledge and Pre-cognitive Thought (= taking advantage of the self-preserving mind), but @ktenkely had all bases covered (or just didn’t see me slip through the virtual classroom door) and so I sat back and enjoyed the session and tweeted the highlights for posterity.  It was a very interactive session, in fact Dave seemed to be just chatting with some of his students most of the time, and I left interested, but without much of a direction to head in (and a craving for olives).

The conference’s final keynote was by @timbuckteeth who must be the owner of one of the best twitter handles I’ve ever come across, although it seems to have nothing to do with who he is – Steve Wheeler.  Now I went tweet crazy, as Steve said some very inspiring things, backed up with memorable visuals to enhance the effect, which more than anything helped kindle the confidence I need to continue with this blog – thanks Steve! Tweet highlights (in reverse chronological order of course) were:

When you retweet, you are not repeating; you are AMPLIFYING > better if you add your 2p worth after the retweet :)
Web 3.0 connects knowledge, Web X.0 connects intelligence > if we teach critical thinking!

Content curation a new role for teachers > Think he means getting our students to think critically about content met
Content isn’t king, it’s a tyrant.
Any teacher can be a global educator – become a blogger, however small your ideas – mine here http://bit.ly/mOCPrv
We can all be change agents – it’s not that hard. Opposition = impact
Education is about teaching students, not subjects – Truss
Hitting an easy target – regimented education systems

So no practical ideas there for the classroom but lots of interesting snippets and food for thought – an inspiring way to end.

All that was left was to say thank you to the organisers, the presenters, the (almost) moderators and most of all to the participants who made the conference such an enjoyable three days.  And then not win a prize in the raffle,  but not to worry, we can still win the big prize if you fill in the survey here before the weekend. Good luck!

Final thought for me personally coming out of the conference was another nugget of Steve’s – ‘When we share knowledge we don’t lose it, we gain it again’ or something to that effect.  Steve is a big fan of sharing your work and ideas with others for free and that we shouldn’t make a currency out of knowledge – and so am I!

See you all at #RSCON4!





Comment on @CeciELT’s blog post: ‘My (Initial) Two Cents Worth on Assessing Students…’

31 07 2011

 

http://cecilialcoelho.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/my-initial-two-cents-on-assessing-students/#comment-1086

mcneilmahon July 31, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Hi Cecilia,

Sorry couldn’t make either of your contributions to #RSCON3 but thanks for the post to give us a taste of your thoughts.

Reading the early paragraphs makes me wonder whether assessment didn’t get a bad name because of the forwardwash caused by education systems and curriculum based on fact retention. I have always been struck by not just the amount of learning demanded of my Czech and now Argentine students in their schools but also the lack of thinking it inspires.

I remember hating having to put myself in the shoes of a loom operator soon after the industrial revolution hit Britain and write a diary entry detailing impressions of a day in my life (and I scored much worse at this kind of task than the fact recall types) but I now appreciate how valuable those attempts at developing my critical thinking skills were.

Before we change the assessment, perhaps we need to change the curriculum and the forwardwash effect it has?








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