We’ve just spent an entertaining and enlightening weekend at the Learning2cn education technology conference at Concordia International School in Jinqiao.
The topics covered included podcasts, wikis, cyberbullying and making exciting lessons within a technology setting. Issues related to laptop schools may seem irrelevant to most of us, but the event is groundbreaking inasmuch as it is probably one of the largest and most significant English language technology conferences that has ever been held in China. It is the fruition of 18 months of planning between several technology coordinators at the Shanghai American School, Concordia and the Shanghai Community of International Schools.
Highlights included Alan November’s seminar about learning the grammar of Internet searching to uncover agenda, filter out commercial spam and forge meaningful international relationships. We encouraged him to make his new student learning pack available in Mandarin. If you want to do your bit to foster critical thinking among net users then come forward and we’ll hook you up.
It is easy to take it for granted that a room full of tech curious educators would embrace new Internet tools without equivocation, but a number of salient concerns emerged. Our new friend Jamie Mackenzie is worried that too much Internet content is nothing more than meaningless blather. Other speakers noted that schools are spending lots of money on new facilities without adapting their teaching and learning paradigms. Filtering and control issues were also prevalent throughout the conference.
The underlying sentiment was still upbeat. Will Richardson’s final presentation on self directed learning was full of encouragement that our RSS feeds can be our teachers and libraries rolled into one.
We liked the event’s efforts to make the sessions interactive by laying on an open wireless network giving delegates a channel to write collaborative notes, comments and questions on their Ning and Twitter sites. There were also ‘unconferences’ that were scheduled to allow us to participate in spontaneous sessions on a whim.
The growing pains of international schools may seem a million miles away from the needs of everyday Shanghainese school children. We would be keen to know about similar events and networks within the Chinese speaking community. We wrote about a local Barcamp in a previous Shanghaiist post.
Jon Zurfluh of SCIS spoke about wanting to keep the conference alive through the website long after this weekend has passed. Hopefully, there will be future opportunities for inter community projects and partnerships.
Flying in speakers from the US does not come cheap so there was a steep USD 300 (USD 200 for EARCOS or ACAMIS school members) fee, which is fine if you are part of an organisation that can foot the bill. If you were not able to attend, then you might like to go to Learning2cn to catch up with the presentation notes and podcasts. We are looking forward to next year’s conference already.
Crossposted on Catshanghai
Disclaimer: The author is a Shanghai based international school tech teacher.