South West Digital Educators Conference, Plymouth University

Tim Rylands at SWDEC Plymouth

I go to and speak at many conferences both national and international and it is easy sometimes to become very cynical and of a mind that one has seen it all before.

Today’s SWDEC #swdec was a complete and total breath of fresh air that re-invigorated an old teacher’s jaded palette so much that I left feeling I needed to get back into a classroom as soon as possible to try out the myriad of ideas and new technologies and strategies that were laid before us by a host of talented and passionate presenters.

I can only comment on the presentations I was asked to support and introduce but most notable were;

  • @dukkhaboy getting us involved with MissionExplore and taking photographs of Playmobile people in scary situations (joyous…couldn’t stop ourselves!)
  • @nelkcarps filling us with passion (and not the least emotion) about classroom ICT and whole school strategy
  • Richard Scott from Thomas Hardye Dorchester making plasticene talk ( I mean…. come on!)
  • The inimitable Tim Rylands @timrylands ; I had forgotten just how good an entertainer/storyteller/educator/innovator and good egg he is; you always go away with a larder full of ideas and resources.
  • @DeputyMitchell ‘s passion for blogging and how it impacts on young people’s learning and experiences. Turning the reluctant and disenfranchised into writers and essayists.

I came away with a number of thoughts but the one that lingered was the sort of work in which I am involved in can often dissuade schools from being braver with these technologies than they are at the moment. Safeguarding  should not be used as an excuse not to engage; so therefore it is important to get the approach to online safeguarding right. That it should enable and not block.

Incidents will happen no matter what you put in place; if not in school then beyond. Far more important to have the right response, support and advice in place for when these occasional issues occur, rather than disable a whole curriculum just in case they do.

Education is the key, both staff and children alike. Everyone should be a stakeholder in how these technologies embed across a school and everyone is a stakeholder in providing safeguarding solutions that are realistic.

These passions for online technologies so evident today will be rendered ineffective if they just sit in discrete pools of expertise that a child experiences when they have that teacher alone.

Today was a real triumph of pragmatism and content over just fluff and style; presentations were sharp, useful, informative and engaging.

Roll on tomorrow’s sister conference at The University of the West of England entitled “Back to their Future”.

Oh yeah … and if you want to see the fledgling Digital Literacy Curriculum we have been tweaking over the last 6 months then make sure you attend Pete Bower’s session. Perhaps it might be the lever to begin to be braver?


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