ACEC 2014 – Digital Leaders – The View From the Sidelines

Over the last few days, I’ve been watching my Twitter feed with interest. This year’s ACEC event is in town and I am unable to be there. This is a little frustrating and pangs of jealousy keep creeping in as I read tweets about inspiring things. Even though I can’t be there in person, the power of social media allows me to be involved in the learning.

This year my son Matt is involved in the conference as a student digital leader. In the lead up to the event, a realisation that he’d agreed to do ‘school things’ for most of the first week of holidays kicked in, and his enthusiasm for the task ahead weakened. Even so, he trudged off to his first day of Digital Leader duties, not sure what to expect.

I wasn’t sure what to expect either. I am a big believer in the Digital Leader program and saw this as an opportunity for empowerment. A chance for him and his fellow students to show a large group of teachers what they are capable of. His despondent attitude on morning one, didn’t fill me with hopes of success. What we ended up with exceeded my expectations.

Coming home from day one, I had a child who was full of excitement for learning. He spoke of being able to learn ‘like a real person’. He felt that he was not only able to help others but that he had learned a lot at the same time. He talked about the connections he made with other students and the conversations he’d had with teachers from other schools. He recounted the conversations with event sponsors and with keynote speakers. During the course of the day he had had a light bulb moment and remembered that he actually loves learning.

One of the key aspects he has talked about each day was the ability to learn from people outside of his immediate circle. He was particularly interested in the ideas discussed by Alec Couros and was able to make direct links between these ideas and what was NOT happening for him at school.

Day two seemed just as exciting for him. He explored Google Glass with Kathy Schrock, and has seen how Twitter can play a part in not only sharing his learning (along with his blog) but for building a learning network outside of his classroom. He interviewed teachers and keynote speakers and discussed the ideas he’d heard about with his peers. As he told me about his day the term that kept repeating was “we can’t do that at school”.

So here is the dilemma. How does he go back to school and stay inspired about his learning? How do we, as teachers, go back to school and help our students to feel inspired? It’s a hard question…. maybe the students have the answer?