2009 ACCE Study Tour Report
A video to support this report can be accessed at http://gallery.me.com/j.zagami#1000000
Zagami, J. (2009). 2009 ACCE Study Tour Report. QUICK, Autumn 2009(112). pp. 5.
2009 ACCE Study Tour report to Queensland Society for Information Technology in Education by Dr Jason Zagami 4 July 2009.
In June this year, the Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE) study tour again travelled overseas. A dozen intrepid educators shared in the exploration of new cultures, ICT education initiatives, and the hospitality of schools, companies, colleagues and organisations that is so readily extended to the ACEC study tour.
The tour visited a range of schools in Auckland, New Zealand. Westlake Girls’ High School demonstrated a range of effective uses of IWB to support the curriculum, Kristen presented an exceptionally well organised and integrated IT support structure, and at Marina View, Colin Gover showed what can be done when student television production is integrated into all aspects of a primary school curriculum. Finally we were treated to a warm Māori welcome at Papatoetoe High School and shown what can be done educationally with what many would consider outdated ICT equipment. Overall the school visits provided a very informative and honest perspective of ICT education in New Zealand.
In San Francisco the tour visited a range of corporate headquarters. Google provided insight into their corporate programmes and support for educational use of their apps environment. At the Oracle foundation we explored the implementation of the ThinkQuest Australia competition and how philanthropic organisations can support educational initiatives. At Apple the group was provided with an opportunity to talk with key personnel involved in product development and educational outreach. Overall, the corporate visits were a unique opportunity to engage with key organisations at a professional level and everyone came away with a better understanding of the perspective large organisations have towards education.
Capping off the tour was the 2009 NECC conference in Washington D.C. Many tour members took the opportunity to explore the sights of the US capitol and recover from the frenetic pace of the past week before the conference. I however engaged with a full program beginning at 7am with the Volunteer Leadership breakfast where association representatives shared their experiences and frustrations of leading volunteer organisations. This was followed by six hours of panels and speakers providing advice on the effective conduct of professional associations. I was invited to participate on a panel exploring the future of professional associations and I led a round table station on the use of web 2.0 technologies in professional associations through which over 200 association leaders rotated through in groups of 10 at 10 minute intervals – exhausting but generating fantastic discussion. The day concluded with an affiliate reception where we swapped gift baskets and enjoyed a relaxed evening networking with the leaders of 80 other affiliates.
The next day began again at 8am with a six hour leadership symposium exploring the US National Educational Technology Plan. Many interesting lessons on how much can slip through when plans are enacted on a national level and the importance of local input and decision making in achieving success within national frameworks. This was followed by the international networking reception where we mixed with conference attendees from across the globe before the conference proper began with a keynote from Malcolm Gladwell, author of Tipping Point, who shared the potential implications of small scale social action. The evening began with an opening gala of epic proportions, followed by a more sedate and exclusive president reception amidst museum displays of the history of technology loaned from the Smithsonian.
The study tour began the next day with a 6:45am breakfast meeting with the ISTE chief executive officer, Don Knezek in which we discussed opportunities for Australian affiliates to access and participate in ISTE initiatives. Then it was off to conference sessions. In truth I attended very few formal sessions as there were too many opportunities to meet and network. Highlights were the Games and Simulation gathering where I made great contacts with the developers of SimSchool, the SIGTE AGM where I met with teacher educators from across the US, the Second Life Gathering to meet in person so many avatars, and the fantastic poster displays in which hundreds of presenters, many of them students, displayed their initiatives and happily talked personally about their successes and failures. In the evening the tour members began a crawl of affiliate receptions – themed and hosted by various affiliates in hotels, bars and restaurants around Washington. Too many early mornings and full days caught up with me however and I crashed early.
The next day of the conference began with a civilised 8:30am keynote debate led by Robert Siegel, host of NPR All Things Considered. The topic, brick and mortar schools are detrimental to the future of education, was well argued on both side with the highlight being US student debating champions speaking with personal passion on each side of the issue. During the day I visited the exhibition halls and the 500 trade displays until my meagre luggage was stuffed to capacity with promotional trinkets and T-shirts. In the evening I attended an Apple Distinguished Educators reception and established a range of new contacts in this community.
The last day of the conference was a frenzy of networking and cementing new relationships. The final keynote was an inspirational talk by Erin Gruwell on which the film Freedom Writers was based. She has now moved into teacher education and with the support of a range of corporate sponsorships is establishing programs to share her strategies with other teachers. The study tour concluded for me that evening with our tour dinner, sharing and reminiscing over the many experiences of the tour and conference. In the morning as most began their flight homeward, I headed off on a two week road trip of the NE corner of the USA and Canada, visiting teachers, schools and universities throughout the region, thankful for the many contacts made on the tour and conference that would sustain and enrich this experience, but that is another tale.
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