Over the last two years I’ve been fortunate to attend quite a few conferences (thanks to my wonderfully supportive admin at ISB). One of the things I’ve noticed at these conferences is that the attendees seem to be almost the same group of people over and over again, which I love, because it gives me a chance to connect with my virtual colleagues in person on a fairly regular basis. It feels like we are really building a community of learners among the various international schools in the Asia region, and I know the group is continuing to grow year by year.

However, as I realized last year, that group of techies is actually few and far between. We’re well connected online, but are often only a very small number in our own individual schools. And of course, it’s usually our job to help our colleagues learn with technology. So we come together, get new ideas, and then head back to our individual schools to spread the exciting news. It’s up to us to move our colleagues forward, to meet them where they’re at and help them take the next step.

What this usually means is that tech conferences tend to cater to those that are already knowledgeable about technology in education. Again, great for us, but not so great for our colleagues in our individual schools that may want to learn but don’t know where to start.

So, my lovely colleague, Tara and I, were brainstorming a few weeks ago about what we could do to help our teachers here at ISB (and elsewhere in the region) that might not be ready to attend a very tech-savvy conference.

We know that many schools in this region are making technology a priority. We know that there are plenty of teachers who want to learn, but might be intimidated by a big technology conference. We know that there are lots of teachers who would be willing to try something new if it were presented at their level. We know a tech-focused conference wouldn’t really be able to meet their needs as well as the needs of the educational technologists they work with.

And, thus, the idea of TechTrain 2010 was born! TechTrain 2010 is an EARCOS weekend workshop hosted at the Interantional School Bangkok, Thailand on January 30 – 31, 2010. The goal is to bring together beginning technology users to help build their understanding of digital tools and how they can be used to enhance the learning experience in the classroom. We are hoping a workshop at the beginning level will appeal to those teachers that want to get started using technology in their classroom, but don’t really know where to start. We want to make sure that the weekend is focused on actually producing something that can be used in the classroom on Monday, and that most of the sessions are hands on, allowing teachers to actually use these digital tools with support.

We’re just in the beginning planning stages, but we’re pretty excited. We really want to make the workshop a comfortable, safe and open environment where everyone can learn together and we can all walk away with something concrete and tangible to give participants a specific next step to take in the classroom.

Tara and I passionately believe that everyone can be successful using technology in the classroom. This is a place for those that consider themselves to be beginners with technology can start!

I know that pretty much everyone reading this blog is already tech savvy, but I’m hoping that you can pass on this post, and the workshop wiki, to anyone you think might be interested in attending. We have a short Google form for interested participants to complete so we can get an idea of what people would be interested in learning about in an effort to tailor the sessions to our participants needs. We know that the workshop is many months away, but we also know that sometimes PD expenditures need to be planned well in advance, so we wanted to get the word out early!

Of course, we’re open to any ideas and suggestions too! What do you think a beginner technology conference should include? Any thoughts or advice on how to organize and run a weekend workshop like this?

Original Image by Dan Kamminga, Creative Commons License

0 thoughts on “TechTrain 2010: Get on Board!

  1. Just a minor note…January 2009 has already passed. You mean 2010, unless there’s a new technology I don’t know about that will take us back to Jan. 2009.

    I’ll be part of a similar sort of workshop in June. I think that it’s important for paticipants to take away something concrete. I think I’m going to focus on Delicious (or someone could do diigo).

  2. @ghostlibrian,

    Thanks for the spell-check. I can’t believe it’s already May 2009! It surprises me every time…

    We’ve got social bookmarking on the agenda :)

  3. One of the most important inclusions in beginner technology weekend is to help them develop personal learning networks as I feel it is critical to the uptake of technology. I shall never forget when I taught a group of teachers last year how to use MS Photostory. I thought everyone knew that, but that was my best attended session. So, I had started with something that teachers could use in their personal lives as well as simple tools for use in their classroom.
    The blogging session I also ran, was not so well attended and I thought that would be packed out, but they werent ready for it yet. I was also horrified to find out that one teacher did not even have an email address. So, I would assume that most know absolutely nothing and to start right at the beginning. Starting with easy web2.0 tools such as wordle is good as they are quick to learn and useful for all subject teaching areas and all year levels.
    I really enjoyed the unconference sessions at Shanghai’s Learn 2.0 conference in 2008. Teachers can choose what they would really like to know and work with after hearing some of the formal presentations.
    However, they really need to stay connected after the weekend as well, so a google mailing group is non threatening for most.
    However, Kim I would love to know what you do do, and how you approach the weekend as I am sure that you have really good ideas. All the best with the planning and the great idea for running the weekend.

  4. Hi Anne,

    I couldn’t agree more about discovering the power of a PLN! That will definitely be a big focus, at an introductory level. Keeping the group connected after the workshop will be really critical for this too…

    I think you’re totally right about assuming nothing, that’s one of the things that makes conferences intimidating for beginners.

    I love the idea of building in some unconference time, maybe in a more formal and topic-focused way, for those who might be unfamiliar with just how unstructured unconferences are.

    Thanks so much for all your suggestions Anne! As we build the weekend workshop, I’ll keep sharing here. The more feedback the better!

  5. Kim,

    I am looking forward to hearing more about this. I was just having this conversation with my principal. I would really like to do something like this in my district. Thanks for the great idea.


  6. @Heather,

    Glad to hear the idea will spread! Please check back for more info, probably in August when we start school after the summer holidays.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge