Friday, February 20, 2009

Some Post Conference & Web 2.0 - Creativity Thoughts

Relaxing up in Portrush this week following the hectic time over the last few weeks helping to get things organised for this years conference. Being involved in organising the CESI conference is a joy because of the opportunity it gives to work with a number of selfless, committed and talented educators whose backgrounds and interests are often quite different from my own but who share a basic common belief that this computers in education thing ain't going away any time soon.

My biggest regret about the conference is that I got to attend so little of it. I missed the Keynote from Laurie as I was involved in the registration desk and missed presentations because I was involved in a workshop on Google Apps for Education. Pádraig O' Dubhaigh and I along with Tom Kendall hope to do more on this soon but more on that when it happens. I got to Enda Donlons Wiiremote IWB talk and Paul Munroes talk on Video Essentials. Both were excellent and it makes me wonder what I missed from the 14 talks and 3 workshops I couldn't get to. I think next year we have to look seriously at video recording all the talks and making them available online - would you be willing to record the talks you attend? It only needs half a dozen of us to record the talks we attend to make all of them available to all of us.

It can be hard reading or writing up here sometimes as the view out of my window is 160 degrees of sea. That picture up there shows about 1/3 of the view - off to the right lies the Giants Causeway and on a clear day I can see Scotland. I can spend an hour sitting here and find I have read half a page.

But it's night time now and I have been reading and wandering round the web for much of the day.
  • I listened to the latest Teachnet podcast on Web 2.0 applications with Cliff Brown, Simon Lewis & Joe Molloy as guests and Mick Hallissey in the Chair - . I heard about the podcast through Twitter - I'm not much of a Twitterer but find it interesting and joined up following John Heffernans performance on the Friday Night CESI-Meet, a very enjoyable evening pioneered by Mags and her team.
  • Read through Noel Cunninghams blog at and ordered the latest Ken Robinson book he recommended. Agreed with his views on the value of CESI but then I find I usually agree with pretty much all of what Noel has to say.
  • Played with mind maps using the online mind map application at as demonstrated by Enda Donlon at the Friday night CESI-Meet.
  • Headed off to Classroom 2.0 of which I, and over 18,500 others are members. I intend to join in their meeting tomorrow evening, 5pm our time I think, discussing VoiceThread - details here
  • Somwhere along the line I ended up on Slidshare and listened to Steve Hargadons hour long talk entitled Web 2.0 is the Future of Education - the Slideshare site itself is worth checking out

The thought that kept coming back to me throughout the day was how Web 2.0 facilitates creativity and the collaborative creation of content.

This year in my school we decided to get involved in a course called Digital Creator - more details here . Ciaran McCormack, who presented at the conference on EuroCreator, put me on to this at the tail end of the last academic year and we got a few teachers trained up and rolled the course out to our TY students this year. It is run under the auspices of IADT and like ECDL the course is split up into modules and students can get a certificate on completing sufficient modules. However the similarity to ECDL pretty much ends there. The various modules deal with the creation of digital content (image, audio, video) and the sharing of the content created by a variety of means (web, DVD, CD, mobile device etc.). The course is run through a Moodle and all the course materials and resources are available there. Students save their work and receive feedback/assessment through the Moodle site. There are many things I like about Digital Creator but the fact that the Art, English and Music teachers are now teaching computers in the school along me is pretty near the top. But of course they are not teaching computers they are teaching digital imagery/photography, digital audio/music, media studies/language of film and the creation of multimedia presentations. I know of no other certified course available to 2nd level schools that integrates the use ICT into courses already on the curriculum so completely. With the courses on offer for the Junior and Leaving Certs. teachers will often make use of ICT but high levels of integration of ICT in teaching and learning are very difficult and therefore very rare.

So a long and wandering blog entry reflecting a relaxing day wandering the net but it is becoming more and more clear to me how important Web 2.0 and digital creativity is in my life and in the lives of my students and how disconnected that is from the Junior & Leaving Cert. education experience on offer in our education system at 2nd level. I hope to write in a more focused way on some of these themes in future blog entries.