Saturday, April 21, 2018

This is Something New: Learners at the Google Summit

This week I did something that I've wanted to do for a while now: bring learner presenters to an adult conference or summit. After my previous attempts to do something even grander failed, I wasn't going to take no for an answer in bringing children to the EdTechTeam Auckland Summit.
We had a busy term so our preparation was left to the last week of term. Maybe that was not ideal, but it was enough. The plan was to bring 16 of our learners and all four learning coaches from our Habitat. We had four presentations and they were all scheduled for the first day of the summit. We worked extremely hard over those five days at the end of the term. The learners actually were given a lot of leeway to come up with what they would say. I made the slides for the sessions and practiced with them, but for the most part they were on their own.

On the day, I was nervous and the children were nervous. We arrived fairly late due to one of our learners not showing up on time. I guess that was to be expected. We managed to get everyone lanyards and some nice free Google Cardboards courtesy of EdTech Team (who were extremely supportive of what we were trying to do for our learners).

For the most part the children weren't too interested in what the adults were saying (though some were) but they came prepared and even if they weren't listening, they all had a device to do something on while we adults were being inspired.

Overall, the children did an AMAZING job in the presentations. They were clearly nervous and some of them spoke extremely softly. Others forgot their lines or got mixed up, but the issues were minimal. Where they absolutely shone, though, was when they were helping out the adults at the sessions. Several of the children chose to stay back in the room with me and help out at the sessions that weren't theirs. They were so excited and happy that they knew more than adults and that they could show them how to do things they couldn't do. On the drive home, one of the girls told me that that was the first time that she had told an adult what to do.

The day was a complete success and the feedback from all four sessions was overwhelmingly positive. I'm excited to go back after the school holidays and see the effect it has on them.

An interesting side note to the whole day, was that they were clearly more up to date on some new features in YouTube than many in the audience - a fact that was continually brought up on the second day of the conference.

I'm so proud of all the learners who came with me to share. They were very brave and they took advantage of an opportunity that they were given. I definitely will look at increasing the frequency of events like this in the future.

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