Bob Harrison gets an extra shot of learning and creativity at Learning Without Frontiers 2011
Kicking off BETT Week on a Sunday, the irreverent Graham Brown Martin launched Learning Without Frontiers 2011 with a free day, ”The Sunday Service-Let us play” which attracted more than 1,000 teachers, pupils, techies, geeks and a lot of parents who might be wondering: “What are these gadgets my kids are on all the time and what are they doing?”
Starting life as “Handheld Learning” in 2004 in a small space in Goldsmiths College, the conference has now become “Learning without Frontiers” with a global following and over 3,000 delegates (plus many more virtual delegates) in the week before BETT.
The big crowd puller on the Sunday was Jason Bradbury (he of The Gadget Show, bald head and big glasses fame) and his Dot Robot show (check out his Y Factor event here) but while Jason was the headliner, the really interesting stuff for teachers was in the Upper Sugar room where “Teachers with Tech: International Best Practice” heard from more than a dozen teachers from around the globe about how digital technology was enhancing pupils learning.(Video highlights will be available on the LWF site soon).
The Australian perspective came from “slide2learn” advocates Jenny Ashby and Jonathon Nalder where iPod Touches have been the catalyst for innovation.
Peter Stidwell from the Parliament Education Service shared how the game MP for a Week (a BETT Award winner) had engaged teenagers in learning more about citizenship although he was reluctant to confirm that a new development for the game was an app called “how to fill in your expenses” !
Steve Bunce from Vital (an online training programme for teachers run by the Open University) demonstrated how games can be used to enhance learning, and Mark Sutton from Soar Valley College, a BSF school in Leicester, also provided some great examples of this new genre for learning.
Phil Hardin brought a US perspective to mobile learning with his story of how iPods had engaged learners in North Carolina and three global projects were showcased by Geoff Stead (Mobile godfather 3) from Tribal.
Perhaps the most inspirational story came from Michelle Gallen (www.talkirish.com) from Ireland who moved the audience with her own personal journey from a “child genius” who suffered a serious brain injury, and then went on to use technology to help replace her lost brain capacity and support recovery.
The Scandinavian dimension came from Stephan Stephenson from the Dansk e-Learning centre and a very interesting development where he has persuaded the mobile network providers to waive call charges for all pupils who download the “mobile maths” app.
Jason Bradbury returned to host the “Learners Y Factor” featuring teams from Thomas Tallis school, Saltash.net Community College, Central Foundation school for girls, St Mary’s Primary catholic school, Denbigh School and Beatrix Potter School.
Of course the day featured the usual “fringe” of Pecha Kucha, There’s an App for that, a MirandaMod Unconference and, of course, a TeachMeet. iPads were everywhere as the registration process had provided delegates with free devices.
For those who had the stamina this was a “Sunday social” event full of energy and creativity which went on late into the night – but many delegates were up bright and early for Day 2!
Learning Without Frontiers