ON THE HEELS OF A very inspiring Schools Conference at Tipperary Institute, I decided to scribble down five things that I intend to review five years from now. I've used my blog as a journal since 2001 and I'm relatively certain that I'll be able to look back at what I've written today because I'm duplicating these thoughts into an embargoed post, set to publish on 1 June 2014 here on InsideView.ie and also on my emerging edublog. While technology certainly will race ahead and offer more connectivity for those attending the Schools Conference, I wouldn't expect social networking to improve as much as the technology itself. So here are the five thoughts from today that I want to review on the resurgence of the New Celtic Tiger five years from now.
Cameraphone Moments. I was a little surprised to see people in the auditorium raising their phones above their heads to snap images of interesting screens of information. I believe Daithi O'Murchu was snapped more than any other presenter, mainly because he appeared on two screens simultaneously. Online Meeting Rooms depicted him in a head shot and he also appeared as a avatar in a simulated world, in a full-screen projection. Outside of the auditorium, I noticed several people snapping shots of key frames from overhead presentations, getting screenshots from computer programs and shooting themselves inside camera viewfinders. In the hands of several educators, the cameraphone was working as a documentation device. I wonder how we will see this process evolve in the next five years.
Virtual Identities. As in most of the events I attend, I walked alongside a lot of people I couldn't stop to meet in casual conversation. I know I walked behind people whose work I read every week--but I didn't have time to chat. I'm also sure I was in the same canteen as dozens of educators whose faces I wish I'd recognised. I know all these people by their signature elements, by their blog properties, by the slides they share or by the reputations they've established. I wish I could capture all of their faces (or their logos, or their nicknames or their URLs) on a big screen that rotated the information in the meeting venue. Furthermore, I wish I had a listing of all those who attended, with links to information on websites like LinkedIn, Xing, Twitter, Flickr, Ning, Facebook or any other website that offered thumbnail profiles or activity streams of their virtual identities. In five year's time, I wonder if we'll be able to run a large screen over the coffee break area with the names and taglines of everyone who registered. I know I would seek out people I had never met in person if I knew they were within my field of vision at a crowded event.
The Free and Open Cloud. Tipperary Institute's free and open wifi network served attendees well on Saturday. More people were using laptops than smartphones (i.e., the Nokia E90, the Apple iPhone or the RIM Blackberry). As talk during the conference centred on the inevitability of scarce resources, I wondered aloud about the impact of primary schools simply opening up their broadband on campus with wireless routers offering a free connection to anyone sitting around the school grounds. Just let the State-funded bandwidth course through the hallways to be used by students who pledge to adhere to standards of acceptable use. This kind of system works in many locations, including the Gaelscoil of Newcastlewest.
Subscribing to a Group Calendar. I want to see similar events like the Tipperary Institute Schools Conference in the months before they're held. I'd like to subscribe to calendars maintained by colleagues who are willing to share their information with me. With the shared view of Google Calendar, I can sync events onto a Blackberry or into Outlook. I really want to see events shared between the Irish Learning Technology Association, the National Centre for Technology in Education, the Symposium of Higher Education and the Computer Education Society of Ireland. At the very least, these shared views could ensure fewer event conflicts.
Pre-Event Workshops. We need more teacher-to-teacher practical sessions. These workshops should precede the main events and they may involve an attendance fee. All good workshops have long lunch sessions and programmed social evenings. I believe there are 20 additional teachers in Ireland who would attend the next running of the Tipperary Institute Schools Conference, just for the workshops.