ULearn 2014 – Day One

I may have spent the three days in Wellington, but I was engaged as ever online, following everything I could from twitter, to live streams, to blogs, to the various links that popped up. At any given time I had so many tabs open I couldn’t identify what was what. This I believe is awesome. Here’s some snippets of the things I took away and some of the next steps.

Keynote #1: Prof Yoham Harpazshared collaborative notes

This was a big picture presentation focusing on what educators should be doing with the students of this modern era. He defined three educational meta-ideologies: socialization, acculturalization and individualization. After unpacking the structure of an ideology and how ideology impacts education, he presented the three meta-ideologies, claiming they cannot all be taught because they contradict one another.

The_Three_Meta-Ideologies_of_EducationI found this a bit troubling. Why are they exclusive? In a student-centred learning environment is our job not to teach the students about these three spheres and have them determine what is best for their learning? I could see that going down really well in a couple of my classes. However, this wasn’t the keynote’s direction. Harpaz’s claim was that “Good schools stick to one ideology. Every one in a school community talk the same language.”

His conclusion was the moment of truth. Three questions to reflect on:

  1. To which ideology am I attracted?  What is my pedagogical sentiment?
  2. Which ideology dominates N.Z. schools and my school?
  3. Which ideology should dominate NZ schools? and my schools?

Takeaway: How do I move my practice to be more individualised – fostering the autonomy and authenticity of the learners in front of me? How do we change the culture of the school to this? I think this is already happening to some extent this year with our professional learning focus, but there is much further to go!

Breakout #1 – Pond and N4L with Kris Ganly & Ian Allan collaborative notes

This was pitched far to low and I was disappointed that this session was streamed. I spent most of my time on twitter.

Takeaway: I’m now on Pond and I’ve been playing around. My next step is to upload some resources. To be honest I haven’t found anything there that suits what I’m doing in Media or Drama, but the beauty of it is it can be shaped by the profession. 

Breakout #2a – Improve Your Collaborative Practice: Sharing is not enough with Rebbecca Sweeneycollaborative notes

The essence here was all about the inquiry cycle and meeting specific needs – ensuring that there is clarity around the actions that we do in order to achieve better outcomes.

The non-engaging session tended to list the dos and don’t without much depth. Or maybe that was the stream that kept cutting out. However some nice comments keep things fairly interesting. I wish I had been there!

Takaway: Keep that inquiry cycle central to all my actions and planning. I do let it slip sometimes and this was a good reminded of its importance.

Breakout #2b – Twitter for Beginners (and those looking to become more connected) with Craig Kemp collaborative notes and 10 Steps to Creating the Perfect Educational Twitter Account plus Craig Kemp’s blog

Nothing all that new. It was great to see Kemp followed the same structure as I did when I ran a similar session at our recent UnConference. Affirmation! One thing I really liked was this analogy:

2014-10-08_1456Takeaway: I can use the pencil analogy, and this is great to be able to take his suggestions and follow some key people on twitter. 

Keynote #2: Adam Lefstein collaborative notes

Focusing questions:

  1. Why should we care about teacher professional conversations?
  2. What do we talk about when we talk about our practice?
  3. What sort of professional conversations make us smarter about our practice?
  4. So what? (Or what can I take back to school from this talk)

The general idea here that I gleaned from twitter was around making our conversations more effective, as the saying goes ‘the whole is greater that the sum of its smarts’. Discourse shapes our thoughts, what we see and what we say. He is big on dialogic pedagogy which I’m not sure I get…but I’ll return to it later on his website.

Dialogic pedagogy is a term used by a growing number of scholars, practitioners and policy-makers to describe learning processes in which teacher and pupils critically interrogate the topic of study, express and listen to multiple voices and points of view, and create respectful and equitable classroom relations

He presented 10 informal rules to govern pedagogical discourse:

  1. Don’t talk about pedagogical problems
  2. Don’t mind the gap between teaching aspirations and classroom realities.
  3. Dichotomise
  4. Trust your own unique experience. Embrace it and share it
  5. No precise professional language
  6. Hyper-criticise
  7. Focus on what is missing
  8. Trust your feelings and Intuition… no need to justify and provide evidence
  9. Everything is due to the teacher

Rules for Professional Conversations that make us smarter about our practice

  1. Focus on the core work of teaching: classroom practice
  2. Anchor discourse to rich representations of practice and base claims on evidence from them.
  3. Adopt an inquiry stance: describe and understand before attempting to judge and solve
  4. Balance criticism and support, and be honest.
  5. Focus on issues and dilemmas
  6. Should be affirming and safe as well as constructive.

I have to admit this is a presentation I wanted to be at. I think there should have been a lot of debate about the ideas being presented here, and many of these statements seem provokative. Twitter didn’t quite do them justice and this didn’t allow me to have my own take on them.

Take away: find out more research about pedagogical conversations and professional dialgoue. This seems like a good area to go further in. I think there is a lot of value in some of these ideas i.e. “Adopt an inquiry stance: describe and understand before attempting to judge and solve” and they are worth reflecting on further.


2 thoughts on “ULearn 2014 – Day One

  1. I too have been tuning in to Ulearn14 – you have provided an excellent summary of what you have heard. More professional discussions to follow.

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