Every two years the ACEC conference is held in a different city of Australia. The beautiful city of Perth was host city in 2012. It was held at Wesley College in South Perth, a well set up private school with sweeping views across the River Swan.
Networking : As always for me, it is the networking that is the highlight of a conference – meeting many colleagues face to face, re-acquainting with established friends, meeting new people and connecting to others who interested in education.
Many years ago, I met Sue Waters on twitter. She is now a moderator of Edublogs. Sue kindly took me under her wing as twitter was not making sense to me and suggested 25 people key tweeters to follow. From those days our educational network has grown dramatically along with our personal friendship. Sue kindly offered me accommodation in her home. Sue Wyatt, who co-ordinates the Student Blogging Challenge, Amanda Marrinan , an award winning ISTE teacher and innovator with her Prep Gems and a friend of Sue’s Frances, who calls herself “a geek who writes code”. Night times at Sue’s house was a blogger’s paradise and much was shared.
As always the attendees were friendly, receptive to technology and keen to learn from and with each other. An ISTE Study Group was on tour and took part in the conference. It was great to be able to socialize with them.
A large number of sessions were offered for each time slot, with a mix of topics. Sessions ran for approximately 45 mins with staggered lunch hours and morning and afternoon tea breaks. A keynote started each day and another was offered in the afternoon. The notable keynote keynote speaker for me, was Dr Miltron Chen, whose workshop I also attended. His topic was Education Nation – Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools. As I am intrigued with the notion of Games Based Learning, Sasha Barab on Video Games and Transformational Play was also of interest.
The morning, afternoon tea and lunch breaks enabled time to wander around the Trade Exhibition Centre. I loved catching up with Geoffrey Kaye who I had met virtually through my online colleague Lorraine Leo in the USA. Geoffrey was at the Compu-Ed stand. We have used his DiscoverE virtual classroom many times for global connection and communication. It has been specifically designed for low bandwidth use.
Many of the sessions that I chose to attend focused on global education and the tools to enable this.
Thanks to Roland Gesthuizen and Amanda Rablin, google hangouts had been conducted in the weeks leading up to the conference to allow pre-conference connections and networking. A Space Lounge was set up in convenient location to the Trade Exhibition Hall. This was a space for people to relax, charge their computers and network on an informal basis. I spent most of any spare time here and met many online colleagues face to face. Roland and Amanda were instrumental in organizing google hangouts of sessions and for an unplugged day preceeding the conference.
Next to the Space Lounge was the stand for the South Australian ACEC conference 2014. Tina_P and Al Upton were busy gauging support for this conference in Adelaide. See also their facebook page. Badges could be ‘blinged’ here and a photographer was on hand to take catchy photos of attendees to promote the SA event.
There was ample time for socializing with two conference dinners – one celebrating 25 years of ACCE and the other being the official conference dinner at the new State Reception Centre in Kings Park. Sue Waters ensured that we were taken to this venue a little earlier so that we could bask in the magnificent views of Perth and enjoy the multitude of wildflowers that were out in the Park – a truly beautiful part of Perth. The Wadumbah Dance Group performed at the Conference Dinner. It is one of the premier Indigenous dance groups in Australia and it was great to celebrate with them. The food was good, the company great and a lot of fun was had dancing to the DJ.
I was proud and honoured to receive the ACEC Educator of the Year Award for 2012. A great colleague, Adrian Camm, received the ACEC Leader of the Year award together with Lynn from Western Australia. Congratulations to both of them. Thank you to my supportive network who made this award possible for me.
Changes in the coference from two years ago:
- majority of attendees had a mobile device.
- Photos were taken with phones, iPads rather than cameras and then shared via twitter or instragram or to Facebook
- Online spaces included a Facebook page
- the presence of unconference style workshops
Special thanks to Sue Waters for being such a great host and to the conference organisers for the huge effort that must have gone in to organising this wonderful conference.