Summer break is here for most of the schools in the Northern Hemisphere. Carefree summer months of vacation time jealously come to mind of most non-educators when they think of the teaching profession.
If you are a teacher, you KNOW though that summer break is not all fun in the sun, but it means Professional Development opportunities galore. Many conferences, workshops and seminars are being offered during the time, teachers are not contracted during the summer.
Going to and participating in these professional development opportunities is changing rapidly. Not only are many teachers attending virtually, but the way physical attendees are experiencing, sharing, digesting and documenting their learning is changing too.
21st Century Skills, 21st Century Fluencies and learning are not only happening in theory as the topic for professional development, but are being lived and applied in teacher learning and education at these conferences.
21st Century Skills, such as
are important to get the most out of your conference experience.
21st Century Fluencies, as described on the 21st Century Fluency Project‘s site are in demand.
The 21st Century Fluencies are not about technical prowess, they are critical thinking skills, and they are essential to living in this multimedia world. We call them fluencies for a reason. To be literate means to have knowledge or competence. To be fluent is something a little more, it is to demonstrate mastery and to do so unconsciously and smoothly.
These fluencies include:
- Digital Citizen Fluency
- Media Fluency
- Information Fluency
- Creativity Fluency
- Solution Fluency
- Collaboration Fluency
Attending a conference in 2o10 is putting the above mentioned skills to use and demonstrate that we, as educators, posses the fluencies of our century to create a different learning experience for ourselves and students altogether!
Before you physically arrive at the conference center, your experience already begins.
The conference organizers will have established a website with information about the conference, presenters and workshops. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself and explore the virtual setup:
- Explore links to presenters’ blogs, websites, twitter usernames and resources
- Take notice of scheduled video streamed events
- Bookmark and participate in presentation forums set up for pre- and post- conference discussion
- Take a look if the presenter has created a wiki with presentation materials
- Find out the official Hashtag used for the conference
Going to the conference
In the past , conference attendees used to bring a notepad, a pen and possibly a highlighter to presentations. Paper handouts were popular to take notes on and record the presenters contact information.
The conference attendee in 2010, will most likely have one or even several electronic devices to write, record and connect with. Laptops, iPads or Smartphones make connecting with resources, a backchannel, virtual conference attendees, links, notes possible, easy and instant.
In 2010, conference attendees are taking online notes, recording the event via audio or video and sharing them digitally with colleagues, readers and listeners from around the world.
The old fashioned “notes” are now being recorded in form of a blog (journal type entries), on Twitter (microblogging in 140 characters or less), via digital images, audio or video. Instead of uni-dimensional, isolated notes, never to be looked at again, conference attendees are creating summaries, multi-media connected documentation of presentations and events, that collectively represent a variety of learning opportunities that do not end when the conference is over, nor is limited to the physical conference attendees.
When in a presentation, attendees can take notes directly into their blog to document what the presenter is sharing. They are able to link to resources and embed videos mentioned in the presentation. With a Smartphone, they can easily take images live at the presentation and insert into their blog post. Once the presentation is over, the post can be immediately published to invite others to leave their comments.
Blog posts can be:
- simple documentation by note taking
- extensions to the actual presentation by adding additional resources, such as links, embedded videso, audio and images
- your own reflections and reaction to the material, ideas and concepts presented
You can easily create your own blog for free by signing up with a blogging service, such as:
Twitter is micro-blogging, since you are limited to writing text to 140 characters or less. It is instant though. While a blog post might wait to be read, until your readers choose to visit your blog site or it appears in their RSS reader, a tweet is seen by your followers the second you post it (Similar to a text message). As you tweet and use the conference Hashtag, your tweets are added to all the other tweets using the same Hashtag, contributing like this your thoughts, ideas or summaries to a collective documentation of the event. Your tweets can fulfill the following functions:
- chronological documentation of what you are seeing and hearing
- precise summaries of concepts and ideas presented
- being the ears, eyes and voice for virtual attendees
- become part of a team that is covering the event and connect with other physical attendees face to face
Sue Waters wrote an exceptional blog post on how to get started with Twitter. Learn about:
- Tips for signing up for your Twitter account
- Before you start following other people make sure you
- Tips for who to follow
- Tips for engaging in the conversation
- Getting more out of Twitter by Using a Twitter Client
- Connecting using Hashtags
- Don’t forget how we can use Twitter with our students
Take images with your digital camera, then upload them to your Flickr account. If you are taking images with your SmartPhone, you can directly upload them to your Flickr account by e-mailing them to a specific e-mail address that Flickr provides ( Go under Your Account > E-mails & Notification).Â Tag your photos with the conference hashtag. Don’t forget to embed images into your blog posts or tweets.
Using an mp3 recorder, your SmartPhone or laptop’s built in microphone, you can record the entire or snippets of a presentation (with the presenter’s permission of course). Later on, these audio files can be edited in GarageBand (mac) or Audacity (PC) to then be uploaded and shared on your blog or conference website.
Flip Cameras or the built in video camera from your SmartPhone are great ways to record snippets from a presentation or interviews with presenters or other attendees about a specific topic. You can also use your laptop’s built in webcam to record diary type reflections about your presentation take-aways.
After the Conference
Once the conference or workshop has ended, the learning is not over yet. Presenters will have or are uploading digital handouts and presentation slides (Ex. Slideshare) Virtual and physical attendees take some time to digest what they have seen and heard before sharing their own reflective blog posts. Other educators around the world continue to add to the conversation that began at the physical conference by linking to presentation posts, tweets, audio or video from the conference.
Your Contribution and Your Learning in 2010?
If you are attending or have attended a conference or workshop this summer, what has been or will be your contribution? What will you add to the global conversation? How will you connect your learning to the learning of others? How will you demonstrate competencies in 21st Century Skills and Fluencies?