Saturday, 19 April 2008

Between the sea and the mountains.

I attended a well organised event in Aberdeenshire today. It was organised by the Local authority E-Learning Development Group and their Glow Key Contacts: Brian Conn and Anna Rossvoll. Thanks for a great day. Embracing New Technologies for Learning was the title of the event but the name in lights was Glow. It was very successful, not just because it was in a a great new school with excellent facilities but because the keynote speakers were inspiring:
Bruce Robertson, DoE Aberdeenshire;

Tim Rylands;

Derek Robertson (and Tim), Learning and Teaching Scotland;

Tim said this was the best way to pose for a photo based on advice given to him by his sister who is a professional ballet dancer? What about Derek?
Richard Stroud, Councillor, Chair of the local Education Commitee and member of the Cairngorms National Park Authority .

All of these key note speakers had strong messages for the audience of three hundred+ teachers. Glow is the future of education in Aberdeenshire. Bruce Robertson described his bold vision and commitment to Glow. He outlined his investment in technology and people to facilitate better learning experiences for all in Aberdeenshire.
Tim Rylands fired up the audience with stories of his imaginative teaching approaches and how he integrates e-learning to enhance learning experinces in the classroom.
Derek Robertson, my colleague from LTS, reinforced what appeared to be a team message by describing technologys and computer based games that can be used to support the teaching of literacy, numeracy and much much more in schools. For me Derek is at his best when he argues for using technology to promote social inclusion and when he gives concrete examples of how to encourage responsible learning with technology. As usual Derek entertained and easily convinced the audience.

I was very pleased to see councillor Richard Stroud show video clips of the Cairngorms National Park, some were made by pupils from schools surrounding the Cairngorms mountains. He was clearly excited and enthused by the potential of Glow to support education about the National Parks. His messages were from the heart, as a councillor, as a mountaineer and skier, and as a resident in the Cairngorms National Park. He talked about this special mountain environment, highland culture, the local economy and issues of sustainability.
I recognised a colleague in one of his video clips. It was Bob Downie, PT Geography from Websters High School in Angus. I used to teach Higher Geography with Bob and remember taking pupils to Corrie Fee in the early 90s to look at such things, as footpath erosion and glacial landforms. It is interesting to think that in my new role as a Glow National Facilitator in the National Site and in particular of the National Parks Glow group, I have the opportunity to make new connections between and with teachers across Scotland: using a Glow group to bring together teachers and pupils to learn about the special landscapes, landforms and landuses we have in our National Parks.
It was great for me to chat with Richard at the end of the day about using the Cairngorms for climbing and ski touring. Unusually, I had time to speak with presenters, organisers, attendees and participants at this event. I had time to chat with a physics teacher (and Glow mentor) in the main hall. We talked about Glow, curriculum for Excellence and our subject areas. The topic of conversation was about managing the content in our subject areas and refocusing teaching for CfE. For example should geography give up content to Scienceeg:tectonic plates, weather and planets? And if this happens, what should Geography centre itself on? There is a great deal of thinking and talking going on, about Glow, about educational change and new technologys, across Scotland but it most obvious in Aberdeenshire today. It is increasingly obvious to me that teacher conversations will soon be seen in Glow, about Glow and for innovation in schools.

I am looking forward to going back to old Meldrum, between the sea and the mountains, in two weeks time when I am delivering a second lot of mentor training to Aberdeenshire Glow mentors. I am also looking forward to mee ting with Cairngorms National Park Authority in May, to collect ideas for designing the National Parks Glow group, sitting in the National Site and Interdisciplinary area. This group will improve communication and collaboration for the National Park Authorities and school projects across Scotland. Aberdeenshire is taking a lead in supporting and using this Glow group. More local authorities will soon want to get involved not leats because, like Aberdeenshire, they too have boundaries and connections with Scotland's National Parks.