Wednesday, 27 April 2016

LIT's #ictedu 2016 - "Students as Co-Creators"

On Saturday the 23rd of April I attended the #ictedu conference at Limerick Institute of Technology, Tipperary for the first time.  I had booked the conference before, but it had always fallen at such a stressful time in the secondary school year that by the time that Saturday rolled around, I didn't have enough steam left in me.  This year left me with a bit more freedom to attend, so naturally I signed up.
A sunny April morning in Thurles
The conference theme hinged upon the student as co-creator and attendees stemmed from across the sectors.  I knew many faces on a professional basis and from CESI events, so it was useful to be at a more intimate conference where there was time to catch up properly. 

The event began with a keynote by Steve Wheeler from Plymouth University.  I've seen Steve give a keynote before and followed him for a long time online, so I was excited to hear him again as I've found his work to be both insightful and practical.  His presentation, "Digital Learning Futures: Learners as co-creators of knowledge", set the tone for the entire conference.  Steve steered clear over the over-used and disproved "digital native" theory in order to focus on the digital visitor and resident:

 Steve also highlighted the benefits of using rhizomatic tools like Wikipedia in order to foster the concept of community and creativity in students, and even hone their digital literacy skills.

Steve Wheeler discussing "desire lines"
As always, Steve highlighted the intrinsic nature of students to pave their own path toward learning and the necessity for us to give them the freedom, and tools, to do so. In this slide, he illustrates the concept of "desire lines" and how it applies to the student experience.

Dr. Barry Ryan assesses the digital skills present
and acquired throughout the project

The next presentation relevant to this blog came from Dr. Barry Ryan from DIT. His presentation, "Doing it for themselves (and others): Students producing reusable learning resources for peers and community partners" followed the trajectory of his plan to implement a video project in his second year Biochemistry module in lieu of the traditional essay.  The aim was not only to engage the students, but also to use the created content to teach each other and a community partner.  The feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive, and they also indicated that they learned some digital skills along the way. Students became researchers of the content, peer reviewers and ultimately creators.  Students were happy to engage more effectively with the content and learn throughout the process.  During a shoot, a group of students somehow crossed paths with Brendan Gleeson on a movie set, and he actually shot some footage for them.  However, his digital skills were left to be desired as the focus was blurry throughout the scene!

The capstone talk, "Stepping in. Stepping out. Standing back. The student as co-creator", came from NUI Galway's own Mary Carty, the Executive Director of the new new Blackstone Launchpad here on campus. I look forward to getting to know Mary, not only because we are just across the concourse from each other, but also because of her impassioned speech about her previous project, the Outbox Incubator. The project is available to young women interested in STEM and its tagline is: "6 weeks, 45 girls at a time, all under 1 roof". Mary spoke with vigor about how the project raised opportunities for the girls that participated, but changed their outlook as women in STEM. Mary believes that ideas can turn into realities.  I have no doubt that Mary's passion will resonate with young people at NUI Galway.

Mary Carty speaking about Outbox Incubator and Blackstone Launchpad
Having known the organizers of this conference for some time, I feel like my attendance was well overdue.  I thoroughly enjoyed the day and I was able to take away some very positive conversations with like minded people. Many thanks to Pamela O'Brien, Conor Galvin and Bernie Goldbach for a wonderful conference.

No comments: