I look for three main things in a conference:
- Good topics, by which I mean not only ones about the latest fad but useful, down-to-earth ones too, and ones that make you think and reflect
- Good speakers, by which I mean people who are experts in their field, and not merely good entertainers
- An opportunity to meet and network with others
The EdExec Live ICT Matters Conference, which I wrote about in my article EdExec Live ICT Matters Conference coming soon, did not disappoint. I hope to report in more depth in a forthcoming newsletter, but just to give you an idea of the usefulness of the day, here is a brief rundown of the day as I experienced it (there were parallel sessions and “Quick fixes” as well as an opening keynote):
- Attended David Brown’s keynote about inspecting ICT and e-safety. David is the National Adviser for ICT at Ofsted, and stated that Ofsted still refers to the subject as ICT because it is much wider than computing. A great presentation, full of useful information on both topics.
- Met Valerie Thompson, Chief Exec of the e-Learning Foundation, an organisation dedicated to closing the gap between the haves and have-nots as far as ed tech is concerned. Check out their forthcoming conference, We need to talk about learning, which takes place on 21st November.
- Attended a session on Decoding ICT Contracts, by David Woods of Greenwoods law firm. Some very useful tips about the pitfalls of signing contracts without fully understanding what the small print means. I am pretty au fait with this sort of stuff, but I didn’t know, for example, that when going through a procurement process you can draw up your own contract to present to suppliers, instead of passively accepting the standard one they give you. It’s strange I’d never thought of that, considering that when I first went independent I drew up my own contract for use where a client either didn’t have their own.
- Went to a “quick fix” session by Sal McKeown, a specialist in special needs education and, in particular, dyslexia. Even though the session, on the inclusive classroom, was only half an hour long, it was full of practical advice, backed up by references to research and case studies. Sal has written a very useful book called Brilliant Ideas for Using ICT in the Inclusive Classroom, which you can find in the books page of her website.
- Enjoyed a session on Parental Outreach, conducted by Mick Tickner of eSchools, about ways of communicating with parents. Apparently, 82% of parents say they don’t know as much about their child’s day at school as they would like. Food for thought?
- I went to a quick fix session about were to find grants and bursaries. Very useful. There’s a lot more money available than you might think! Delivered by Rachel Gordon of MyPebble. What I especially liked about this session was that Rachel made almost anything sound possible, and clearly knows what works and what doesn’t when it comes to putting in a bid for extra funding.
- I attended Crispin Weston’s talk on New Approaches to Ed Tech Procurement. A very thought-provoking talk that challenged much current “wisdom”. For example, he said that anyone who believed that crowds make the best decisions had clearly not read the original book. The talk was backed by books and research dating back decades, as well as more recent work. I highly recommend Crispin’s blog. It’s not updated that often, but the posts are long enough to get your teeth into, and that more than makes up for it!
- I met Steve Wharburton, a long-standing member of the educational ICT community who has done some great work in and with schools. Do check out his website.
- I also enjoyed meeting and discussing things with Jo Marshall, a school business manager who attended my session at the EdExec conference back in June.
So, all in all, an enjoyable and highly practical day.