2 Unconferences in One Day

On Thursday I had the opportunity to head down to London to take part in the Amplified’08 event held at NESTA HQ. In addition I was grateful to also be able to attend the MIrandaMod2 unconference at the London Institute for Education.

Network of Networks

The amplification of voices is the intent for Amplified08. Voices that have already come together in their own social networks, to meet face to face and take the use of social media in their fields of work onto the next level. I was in the company of about 200 other professionals who passionately believe in the power of social media, in one form or another, to change what they do. I was pleased to meet Drew Buddie and Leon Cych and between us we flew the flag for education in amongst this wider group. 


The session topics were sketched out on the wiki and after a brief introduction by Toby Moores and NESTA we huddled around a whiteboard to find the location for the conversations. I attended a session called “From conscripts to followers – new forms of leadership and organization” that sprung up from a blog reaction by David Terrar to Seth Godin’s book Tribes. I listened to the group talk about current workforce models and how social media has a role to play, how communication streams are different then they were a year ago and how it is possible to utilise them.

I explained to the group that I work with 30 social media experts everyday and then said I was a primary school teacher and that the children were ten. I asked what will the large corporate world do when my class are ready to get into the workforce? I discussed some of the online tools we use and the fact we have a Nintendo Wii in the class and some of the ways we have already used it – I explained that when I talk to the children on their terms and engage with them in a place that they know and enjoy, there is an instant community of use. The children know that I am aware of the ways they use social media and other technologies – they appreciate that it is OK to talk about it and enjoy it.

As with many of these events, or certainly what TeachMeet was built upon, the corridor conversations were also amazingly valuable. After the session I talked with Graham Stewart, Euan Semple and Anne Marie McEwan about the future of Amplified and what might happen. I referred to the fact that I left Glasgow and the TeachMeet at the Scottish Learning Festival feeling inspired and empowered to organise an event of my own. We talked about the level playing field those who use social media are standing on – we can all publish, have a TV or radio station or be a journalist. 

I hope that in supporting each other social media and the wider use of online tools can be further leveraged in our professions. I believe that TeachMeet and the wider edtech community in all their glorious guises can exemplify how to use these tools in an open way. The way that we share how we work and our successes is not the same in the corporate arena. It was a privilege to encourage people to think about education in their discussions and all the good that goes on. May the voices of teachers continue to be heard loud and clear.


Drew Buddie encouraged me to attend the second unconference organised by MirandNet. It was a quick dash up the road with Drew from NESTA but was a real pleasure to attend and once again exciting to hear about the innovative work going on in classrooms. I was thrilled to also get a chance to meet Dai Barnes and Daniel Needlestone who I have enjoyed talking to in the EdTechRoundUp meetings.

Loosely organised but with a tighter rein then, say a TeachMeet, we had a range of speakers from across the education sector. Leon Cych was in charge of the video stream that went out on UStream and he monitored the chat and twitter feeds as well.

I had a little unplanned stint talking about multi-touch interactive devices and what the future may (already) hold for classroom technology. Rachel Jones the head of education at Steljes (who kindly supported the event with some money for the food and drink) spoke to the group about future classroom designs and how the SMART Table could play a part in collaborative learning. I look forward to working with Rachel in the near future to help ensure the most is made of the SMART Table and to explore the possibilities it and the Durham project brings to the classroom.

london 025

My planned talk to the group on the use of Google Earth for writing began with me tipping a laptop on it’s screen and sliding it underneath a visualiser. We had to improvise as my laptop would not connect to the projection system. I talked about the work we have been doing this week in class and how we used the visual support of a location in Google Earth to define our story. It was fun being able to talk and showcase what goes on in my class and another opportunity to reflect on my practice.

Dai Barnes took the floor and talked with great passion about his students work with Alice and Mindmeister – he also did an amazing impromptu demo of how to embed a Google Form in a Moodle page. After the event Leon, Dai, Drew and I had a pint and continued the conversation. Thankyou to MirandaNet for having me and it would be great to attend the next if I can.

Overall it was a great day of sessions, conversations and learning – there was so much to reflect upon and it was inspiring to meet my network face to face. It only serves to strengthen those connections and inspire you further.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you Tom for sharing your experineces in those conferences. It is still amazing for me how much i can learn from others sitting here at my desk in the Suthern hemisphere.

    You sound like an amazing teacher who integrates ICT with passion, understanding and relevancy.

    I hope you won’t mind sharing with me:

    1. How would you advice to break the barrier of ICT and Web 2.0 with teachers that are reluctant to do so?

    2. If you had been given a budget for the integration of ICT -(starting from scratch) What would you spned it on? – Certain softwares? hardwares? other resources?


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