Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thoughts on #HHL09

#HHL09 is the hash tag that was used last week for 'twitterers' at HandHeld Learning 2009 now that I have had some time to reflect on the conference and its standout sessions and my 'take aways' here are my thoughts.
One main thought is that HandHeld Learning was a bit of a misnomer this year as it was the uses that technology is put to that was and is more important. This is in my mind of a greater importance than the technology used. However the conference does deliver on the cutting edge technologies that can and should be used in education today, and long may it do so. Conferences like this are very useful and much more focused on educational issues than is say BETT which is really just a very big trade show with seminars tagged on. ( as an aside I believe that BETT should move to the model of ISTE's NECC conferences -where a large trade show is balanced with presentations similar in quality toHHL).
My second thought is that even though this was only my second HHL conference I noticed that the same theme - a need for a step change in education policy to affect the changes being 'showcased'. My fear would be that even with the high profile examples of excellent practice shown at HHL and with input from BECTA and others that this message is simply not yet getting through ( I refer back to my previous post on the PGCE students who were in attendance on the Monday who are even now unable to submit their assignments using basic web2.0 technologies )........will the step change ever come, this does seriously concern me.

These issues aside back to the 'standouts'and 'take aways':
Tuesday 6th morning session 'Reflections on Learning' Malcolm McLaren was excellently off beat with his take on the need for formal education ( as soon as the hopefully uncut video of this session is released I will post it). Malcolm's rather radical views were balanced by Zena Atkins and Yvonne Roberts however I still felt as if we had neen teased but without getting to the meat of the issues.
Tuesday 6th afternoon session 'Creativity and Innovation' for me Tim Rylands would have been the draw to pull me to HHL09 in his own right having with his Myst work which I found inspirational and used in my own classroom. Mr Rylands definitely lived up to the billing as a 'doer' and was for me the standout of the day if not the conference as a whole.

Wednesday 7th morning session 'Inclusion' I sadly missed the start of Niel McLean (BECTA) and his input on home access to ICT for poorer families however I did manage to hear Helen Milner from UK Online Centres. All of the inclusion opportunities were extremely inspiring apart from an 'exclusion' moment when I realised that these wonderful schemes are only on offer in England - my task now to lobby the WAG to check on projects like this being developed for families in Wales......nothing yet? I rather think that I didn't put my corresponding questions to the right people in the Q&A session on this topic.
The 'standout' of the morning session for me was Sir Tim Brighouse whose insight into the use of technology in education was very interesting,however he has had difficulties gettingthese views adopted by government in the past.
Wednesday 7th afternoon session was towered over by the technology colossus that is Ray Kurzweil, he did not disappoint in his wide ranging look at the exponential growth of all types of technology which he percieves will go inexorably into the future and how technology will change us all.
As you can see this conference actually managed to range across a wide variety of topics each of which would have made for a good stand alone event in their own right - fortunately they can find a place here in HandHeld Learning which is very much TED for Educational Technologists ( now there's a thought Graham?).... long may it continue as a showcase for practitioners, pupils and cutting edge thinkers.
I hope to be at HHL2010?

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