Conferences are a great place to make connections and further develop a personal learning network. Personal learning networks are crucial to the successful uptake and continuation of successful learning and teaching.
Recently I attended the 21st Century Learning Conference in Hong Kong. Let me share how I made some great connections.
- On the buses It all began on the bus! We had arrived in the hot, humid heat of Hong Kong to our hotel, having left a back pack on the A11 bus from the airport, that included my netbook, video camera, itinerary and other printouts for our time away etc. One hour was all that I had to change, shower and get down to the foyer where the bus was to pick us up and transport us to the Hong Kong International School, a 40-50 minute drive away. The foyer soon filled with chatter, people, a variety of accents and people were soon introducing themselves to each other. Once on the bus, I was priveleged to sit next to Kerri-Lee from an United World College of South East Asia in Singapore. Within minutes of the drive we were engrossed in her iTouch, with demonstrations of use by the primary school students. The magnificent views etc were all forgotten, while we discussed web2.0 tools, applications and teaching methods etc. Several days later, I was able to meet Kerri-Lee at her school and spend time there with her. Another valuable bus contact was Anita from Seoul, Korea.
- Meal times A casual affair as people chose where to sit after getting their meal and conversations began
- Organised activities On the first night, a scavenger hunt, forced us to go and meet others who used a number of technological tools or applications. I was fortunate to make some wonderful contacts, one being Andrew from the Renaissance school. This connection enabled me to go and visit this forward thinking, progressive school several days after the conference.
- Sessions Great contacts can be made through the sessions. These people will often have similar interests. Saeed from the Canadian International School of Hong Kong was kind enough to show me around his school, after meeting him in the Flat Classroom Workshops.
- Tweetups A lunchtime tweetup was organised by @kimcofino on the last day where I met further people from the twitterverse and added them to my twitter role
- Unconference sessions Some conferences will provide unconference sessons where interested people can put up sessions for further discussion, sharing and connecting. These will often arise out of existing conference sessions.
- The ning A great place to make, continue and maintain those valuable connections.
Over the next few days of the conference, business cards were exchanged and further networking made. Although the conference was primarily attended by teachers from the international schools, these schools tend to be well resourced technologically with teachers who are progressive in their outlook. Teachers at the conference came from the Middle East, USA and across most of Asia.
- Visits to some the Canadian International School and to the Renaissance School through my contacts
- Must remember to get some business cards printed as these are a great means for further communication
- Add the details of the business cards onto a laptop so they will not be lost. Also a means of remembering who was who.