New suit on- tags only removed that morning- briefcase complete with multiple pens, highlighters, notebooks and laptop, and handbag full to the brim with just-in-case essentials; water, tissues, snacks, filofax, smartphone, more pens… I was over prepared. But it was my first conference. I had no idea what to expect. The free coffee on tap was a welcome surprise.
The first half hour was… daunting. The words small fish in a big pond had never meant more to me. I picked up some leaflets to fill the third bag I had accumulated on arrival. I made a mental note of those I wanted to speak with when my confidence finally kicked in and I made sure I knew where I was going before I had to go there.
09.30; show time. I must admit I was excited. Giddy, you might say; a child thrown from University into the adult world. Entering Lecture Theatre 3 was like being embrace in a safety blanket, lecture theatres were my turf. I did have to endure the odd “You must be the youngest person in the room” and yes I was intimidated by the professionals surrounding me, until Steve Wheeler started to speak. I was enthralled instantly, having loved the eloquence and wit of his Blog I was thrilled to see the same shine through in his presentation. When he asked the room if they had heard of Cathy Davidson’s new book, Now You See It, I knew I had earned my seat, while most around me had furrowed brows that could only mean ‘no’, I raised my hand timidly, smiling proudly, that not only had I heard of the book I had done a great deal of research on it and its author. Confidence was building, doubt was easing.
11.00; Lego time! I had signed up to the Lego NXT Robot workshop, and I was very excited about it. Living Marc Prensky’s Digital Immigrants I was quickly put to IT shame by the 10 year old helpers within the group. My robot would do nothing I wanted it to; my helper had it moving in a perfect square and declaring “Good job” in no time. The curriculum possibilities that these robots allowed for amazed me just as much as the children who programmed them.
12.30. After having my Lego robot prised from my unwilling hands it was time for lunch. As everyone mingled I knew I had to ignore the fear and discover. Working my way around the stalls, PebblePad, Televic Education, Question Mark (headline sponsor), eCom Scotland etc etc, I talked, I perused, I learned, I made contacts. Then I ate; lunch was really good!
13.30; back to the lecture theatre. Pamela Kato’s keynote was the highlight of the conference for me (topped only by her following me on Twitter!). Her presentation was funny, engaging and surprising. Never would I have thought that Serious Games for student doctors could relate so much to the needs of primary and secondary education in Scotland.
14.10; ePortfolios. Disappointed that I never secured a spot in the App App and Away workshop I went into the afternoon seminars with little expectation. I came out buzzing with hundreds of new ideas and the opportunities that ePortfolios offer. Shane Sutherland, PebblePad, and Gordon McLeod, Mahara, offered enthusiastic, informative presentations.
Unfortunately at 15.30 I had to leave; train to catch. I left the conference exhausted but highly enthused. My brand new suit was well worn in, the jacket long abandoned and stuffed in one of my many bags; I was strongly regretting taking my laptop (and several other contents of my bags) but still I was smiling. I got on the train looking a little worse for wear but the notebook was straight back out and the ideas were flowing….
Detailed Blogs of all events to follow.