Incredibly busy week last week, after GBL10 on Monday and Tuesday it was time for Bectax on Wednesday so back up to London I went. Wasn't the only librarian this time, the wonderful @NicolaMcNee was giving a brief presentation in the afternoon so we teamed up straight away. Lots of the same people that had been at GBL10 were there so I felt quite at home, along with others I already knew from Twitter. The day started in the lecture theatre with introductions and rules of engagement, it was great to see the excited faces of the students in 15 schools across the country that were following the conference live. Sonia Livingstone was first up talking about digital literacy in the networked world then a lively discussion chaired by the infamous Ewan McIntosh with Headteacher Annette France, Six To Start's Adrian Hon and Katie Bell from Stardoll Network. The discussion was entitled Partnerships & Platforms and ranged from talk of using Facebook, Twitter etc in schools to the dissatisfaction voiced by Annette France of the apparent slowness of VLE development. Twitter backchannel was very busy all the time and with this showing on one large screen to the left of the stage and students tweets coming up on another screen it was kind of hard to keep up. Others were watching the live broadcast and tweeting too so it was very visually noisy. Many of the delegates complained about blocking and this was seen as one of the biggest problems that needs to be addressed ; students can access social network sites on their mobile phones which makes denying them access on school networks a nonsense.
Something new at the end of the discussion - speed networking! Done in exactly the same way as speed networking, rows of chairs facing each other and you had 1 minute to talk to the person opposite you. It was noisy, useful and lots of fun!
After coffee another discussion, Bridging the Gap with Tom Barrett, Ray Maguire, Josie Fraser and Michael Gernon talking about how technology can help schools to connect with each other, parents governors and other stakeholders and about giving schools more choice to use technologies that fit their learners. The pupils in the 15 schools were coming up with some great feedback via Twitter and several comments were made about them being involved in teaching their teachers.
Quickfire presentations after lunch were all very interesting, although the two that stood out for me were Stewart Townsend talking about the Alternative School and the triumph that was Nicola's session - Twitter backchannel went mad during her presentation and I was sending many pro librarian tweets! Think some peoples perception of librarians was changed for the better that afternoon.......
Group discussions on 5 questions (here http://tinyurl.com/yaks9yz) got us all thinking and after voting for the best suggestions presentations were made back in the lecture theatre. Most of the schools had gone home but a Skype call with students from the last school online was amazing and the students were making such thoughtful suggestions like an e learning portfolio for staff as well as kids. The overriding impression coming from delegates was one of frustration at blokck and disappointment that senior leaders do not seem to trust their staff to know what is appropriate.
This morning when I looked out of the window there was a small tugboat pulling a much larger boat along the river and it struck me the attendees of Bectax have to be like that tug boat - we may be small individually but we need to pull the 'bigger boys' (SLTs, LAs etc) forward with use and try to keep the enthusiasm and energy from the day going. I think we do also need to be very aware that staff that do not have the same passion for technology need careful handling, trying to make them step too far out of their comfort zone too quickly can be counter productive and this cannot be allowed to happen.
An amazing day and I'm looking forward to the ripples that will spread from it!