Summer holidays and camping with family prevented me from attending any of the three google hangouts that Lucy Gray cofounder of the Global Education Conferences held. My reflections from the land down under are as follows!
- the sheer awe of being part of a conference that is free, completely global, enables international networking and simultaneous sharing with world wide educators in real time.
- being able to volunteer to moderate the conference and virtual lounge for long stretches of conference time whilst those in the USA were asleep.
- learning from and with educators from Africa, the Middle East and other distant lands. There was a great cohort of new educators from these countries this year.
- From the ning chat, we learnt of the current state of living and learning in Syria. The power is taken off at least twice a day for 2 hour stints to reduce the amount of violence. Kudos to this educator who was a presenter at the conference and was able to juggle around these blackouts and succeed in her efforts.
- Admiring the efforts and lengths that other educators have to go to to present. In the words of our Syrian presenter when asked how her presentation went:- “Actually, we planned it well! We went to one of Lattakia 5 star restaurant to make sure that we have excellent internet access and on electricity.”
- the virtual conference lounge where there was spontaneous networking, general chat, getting to know the presenters, the volunteers and general chat etc.
- the chat on the ning where many people are comfortable to ask questions, share their experiences, passions and where they live and most importantly develop that all important global network. This would mostly be in English but often in Spanish and a translator tool had to be used to be able to understand each other.
- Learning to moderate Spanish sessions with the help of translator tools, emoticons etc
- Moderating a mulititude of sessions in the Australianevening with others from Israel, the Middle East, New Zealand and my wonderful colleague, Julie Lindsay.
- setting aside dedicated time to moderate many of the sessions and hear how others are approaching global education.
- certificates were available for presenters and participants
- the new ability to view recorded presentations in Blackboard Collaborate, or save as an mp3 file or share to youtube.
- gaps in (Australian) night time slots where there were no presentations. But this quiet time gave time to plan, organise and network beyond the conference presentations
Suggestions for future conferences
- encourage sessions in other languages. English is still the predominant language with a number of Spanish sessions.
- look at the timing as the Global Education Conference came hot on the heels of Connected Educator month – a busy time for other online conferences, webinars and activities