Reflections on Learning2.011 Asia Conference

What a great conference this was! The Learning 2.011 conference is innovative and unique, in that participants can have complete choice over sessions, workshops and the direction of their cohort groups. There were more than 400 people in attendance, most of whom were from schools in Asia.
This is how it looked:-

  • When participants first registered, they chose cohort groups based on subject areas or other areas of interest.
  • Cohort leaders were then chosen on the basis of interest shown by registered participants. (Jabiz (@intrepidteacher) and I worked with the English/Social Studies cohort.)
  • There were five cohort sessions – one on the first night of the conference and two on each of the full days.


  • Each day started with a keynote session – these included cohort group leaders  eg @kimcofino, @kevinhoneycutt, @gcouros, @courosa, @thecleversheep, @jessmcculloch, @libraryanne, @intrepidteacher, @wesfryer and myself. Each of these sessions demonstrated an interest or passion, yet all focused on  the power that technology and networking can bring to learning. Students also provided keynote sessions – these were amazing with confident students sharing their knowledge, their learning and their outcomes. Some fabulous student video creations were shared.
  • Between cohort sessions, there were workshops and unconference sessions. Conference participants would put up a suggestion for an unconference session based on a topic or need that arose out of the conference. I attended unconference sessions on podcasting, the flipped classroom, making a mobile app,  virtual worlds and Wonderland etc. These were fabulous and the often small group sizes led to intimate discussions and sharing.

    Sample unconference sessions

There was no need to sign up for workshops or unconference sessions, simply find the allocated room. I loved this flexibility.  Experts within the conference can run workshops or unconference sessions on an fantastic range of topics and  workshops and unconferences are selected at the time. There were cohort groups for all educators including leaders, assessors, PE teachers, the Arts, Digital Storytelling etc. (See the scheduled cohort groups and  workshops.)

Highlights

  • Meeting face to face many of the people who I follow on twitter and have admired for a long time.
  • Meeting many new contacts who are just as passionate about immersing technolgy in learning
  • Working closely with all cohort leaders in the two days prior to they conference. This gave us a chance to feel comfortable with each other, to learn from each other, share our passions and gain confidence in the direction we would take .
  • Working with Jabiz (@intrepid teacher) on the English/Social Studies cohort. A wiki, Connect, Communicate, Collobarte, Create was set up and on the Thursday evening, it was decided to split them into two groups. The wiki was our framework, place to share resources etc and gave us direction, should the group need guidance in what they wanted to know.
  • Networking with so many wonderful educators, including two others from Victoria @jessmcculloch and@mr_robbo
  • Ability to connect with 450 educators mostly from Asia, all of which can fit into schools’ time zones.
  • Sharing conversations around educational and technological passions.
  • The flexbility of the conference to cater for all needs
  • Meeting the committee members who worked tirelessly  and who looked after the cohort leaders so well.

Challenges

  • Ensuring the needs and desires of the cohort group were met. Did we really cater for what they wanted to know? Did they know what they wanted to know?
  • Working with
  • Preparing a 5-7 minute keynote presentation and keeping to the time line.
  • Working without many of the great tools that I use for learning as so many sites are blocked in China eg twitter, my blog (could not edit it), youtube and facebook.
  • Watching the cohort group tackle the use of technology each session.
What would I do differently next time?
  • make more use of the student who was assigned to our cohort and get him to share his learning.
  • give the group more time to share with each other using informal discussions.
  • setup an ongoing networking system when back at school, before the conference finished. (Have since created a group in skype for ongoing conversations.)
Have you been to a conference similar to this, where differentiated learning is encouraged all the way? Were you at Learning2.011? What were your takeaways and reflections on the conference?
Thanks to all involved, I have come away a richer, more empowered educator with many more in my network. Looking forward to Learning 2.012. If you want to attend a conference where you have almost full control over your learning, this is the one for you. Hope to see you there!

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