ULearn09 – the recap

I’ve had a busy holiday period – week 1 was NZEI Annual Meeting and week 2 was ULearn09 in Christchurch. I arrived home last night and am now trying to sort out all the new ‘stuff’ I’ve come away from ULearn09 with.

We (my colleague Mariee and I) flew from Wgtn to Chch in the evening. As we were waiting at the airport someone said to me “Aren’t you KiwiJoe?” And so ULearn09 began even before we’d left Wgtn. On the same flight in (and out) as us were some teachers from another local school.

We landed and took a taxi to our hotel room where we checked in, dumped our bags and went back out straight away to catch up with those who were still at the twitter dinner. Some were still there but most had left still it was great to finally meet Chris, Kirsten, Myles, Dorothy & Jenny and to see some old faces – Barbs, Allanah, Rachel (and I’ve probably forgotten someone!).


First up was the opening keynote (preceded by an address by Anne Tolley) – Gary Stager who talked about 10 things you can do with a laptop – he also had some pointed things to say about National Standards!. We sat with Kirsten and Kelly and took collaborative notes and tweeted during the keynote.


Then it was time for Breakout 1. I went to “Juniors can do IT” with Rachel. (I took notes using etherpad until my battery died.) Although geared for younger children than I teach I came away with some ideas that I will use this coming term as part of our topic work.

Breakout 2 was “Software for learning” facilitated by Fiona and Rocky. This wasn’t what I thought it was going to be BUT it was very helpful in thinking about mindshifts and how ICT is used in classrooms and how it connects to the NZC. We looked at the 5 stages of embedding ICT into the classroom and we talked about how to support teachers in all the various stages. The thing I’ve come away with is a reminder that even when you’re the school ‘expert’ you haven’t finished learning!

Mariee and I relaxed during Breakout 3 – we wandered around the exhibition hall and chatted to various people at the Bloggers’ Cafe (including Simon who had me sold on a new piece of technology – actually I bought 2 new things to use in my classroom! – A new Creative video similar to the Flip called Vado & an Easi-speak microphone).


Wednesday evening we had a reception at the venue then “The Randoms” (some of us) went out for dinner at the Dux de Lux with some of us going on to The Base afterwards.

(We called ourselves the randoms because we’re all here in ones or twos and are all on twitter so planned to spend time together around meals.)


An early start for me with a 7am Twitter breakfast. Great to relax over an excellent breakfast with the others!

I missed Thursday’s keynote as I was a little ‘keyed up’ before my two taster breakouts. I presented a taster session on Twitter followed by one on eLearning & using blogs/wikis in the classroom. Both sessions went well and there were 15-20 people in both sessions (some there for both).



Breakout 5 was “Why wait? Start using wikis and blogs now!” by Kelly. I really went along to support her as it was at Christ’s College which is a mac environment but I found myself being challenged with new ways of using my wiki. Thanks Kelly!

We had an early finish on Thursday as we all had to get ready for The Dinner. We were bussed out to Westpac Arena and what a spectacular night.



First breakout of the day was “How Moodle can work in the classroom” presented by Mel and Richard. While they both work in the secondary field, and we DON”T have moodle at school both Mariee and I came away with some ideas to work on over the next term.

And our final breakout was with Maria from Watchdog talking about Google Apps. Mariee and I are keen to do some collaborative work between our classes using Google Doc.

One of the very best things about ULearn09 was the networking – I was able to meet a lot of people f2f for the first time, even though I’ve been talking with them for many weeks/months/years. These are the people who help me do my “stuff” – they’re my PLN and I’m a better teacher because of them. Thanks to: Kellie, Fiona, Paula, Jamin, Allanah, Michael, Dave, Simon, Helen, Erin, Justine, Jane, Clair, Lenva, … just to mention a few. There are new people – who I met at ULearn09 – who will be part of my ongoing PLN as well.

And I suppose I should mention the other thing I brought home with me – my presenters cup!


And my final word – for now (LOL) – I was interviewed by the media team and finally figured out that the video is on Blip.tv.