I have been critical of the last couple of DP conferences but found this year’s event in the Hunter Valley a much more satisfying experience. The venue and facilities were spacious, salubrious and the wireless connectivity good. The mood was very positive in all respects.
The keynotes were mostly excellent but what made a difference, for me, was the quality of the opening keynote by Mark Treadwell. He framed the conference with an intellectually stimulating presentation. His central thesis, that the internet is a paradigm shift sparking a renaisance in learning, is obviously not particularly new or difficult to understand but the significance of the DPs commencing the conference with his challenges to our conventional notions of schooling, had me standing to applaud.
Smart Ask, a parent portal in New Zealand that Mark discussed, interests me greatly. The semester routine of writing, what are badly out of date by the time they get home school reports, could be updated with this kind of portal for families. Feedback that is up to date and pedagogically sound, who would not prefer this to what we have at the moment, an outmoded, anachronistic reporting habit that dates back generations?
Mark was generous with his time and I enjoyed his workshop and impromptu ‘masterclass’ on ‘the brain’. I certainly will read his new, about to be released book exploring how the brain learns, Whatever! Were we Thinking?
Collaboration and cooperation between conferences needs to develop significantly and the challenge of face-to-face meetings is too great for most of us. The association has made a grant available to me for investigating and improving online communications between us DPs. Mostly, it is not about ‘the tools’ but the community and how we understand what can be achieved to grow professionally, collaborate and support each other in our efforts to improve the quality of what our schools offer.
Understanding of Web 2.0 tools needs to develop significantl in the coming year. A few of us made a fledgling attempt at having a back channel in operation using twitter and the hashtag #DPconf09. Denise Lofts, Rob Lyttle, Pip Howell, Stu Hasic, Roger Pryor and Brendan Jones are some of the DET people who participated.
The association’s twitter account is now operational.
There will be some more info and changes at the DP website in coming months.