Yesterday I attended LearnPod12, “the UK’s largest unconference for post-16 learning“. It was a great day, organised by Kevin Campbell-Wright and Rob Wilmot, and hosted by Doncaster College. I met new people, renewed old connections and brought twitter connections into real life and learned lots of new things.

Kev’s storify which illustrates the event better than mine, which consists most of my tweets from the day. Notes from the event (typed during the sessions) are on Piratepad.

And here are my notes from the day (here’s the agenda for all the sessions):

Session 1: Learning in usual and unusual spaces, led by @johnpopham

  • how we teach IT
  • how we engage people with technology
  • example: #twicket -> to make a point about rural broadband (live videostreaming)
  • using technology for fun stuff -> a room full of computers is intimidating
  • people should see technology as life-enhancing
  • contradiction between what people want and what funding bodies want/need to see
  • link teaching and content to people’s interests to get successes
  • be prepared to go where people are/get out there!!
  • link learners together outside/after the course -> they keep on learning, with and from each other
  • connectivity essential!
  • connectivity a poverty-related issue: you also need to be able to afford the connection
  • take learning to the community -> @watfordgap suggests doing it on the train
  • learning can be restricted by funding -> e.g. stuck in one location
  • informal learning works best -> hook people into learning “in their space” and they might pursue it further -> example: social media surgeries, peer-to-peer learning
  • ask people what they want to learn
  • teaching should be about lessons for life
  • how to make effective use of social media tools in the classroom -> resistance to smartphones can be a problem
  • facts are not so important anymore, it’s about teaching skills to people
  • “we used to not know stuff and it didn’t matter”
  • how-to videos at youtube, vimeo, videojug
  • @johnpopham wants to break down barriers to work being fun

Session 2: Adults learning and marketing on a shoestring, led by @clarewhite

  • how to use free tools to generate interest
  • how to get people to pick up more skills
  • idea: do it in supermarkets
  • you need to get your timing right, e.g. Fifty Shades of Grey
  • how do you recognise an upcoming trend?
  • is word-of-mouth really just that -> marketing initiatives in background?
  • share groups/contacts that are already reached by others, be less competitive -> partnership working
  • traditional media still powerful -> use them!
  • corporate policy can hold use of social media back
  • you need to be clear about your social media identity and institutional identity
  • time needed for social media to keep the brand going
  • personal connections spread your message
  • be focused in you message
  • social media can be very informal -> more accessible to some groups
  • learning can be personality-driven: people come to learn with  a person, not to a place for a lesson
  • social media can be useful for people whose first language isn’t English
  • choose your communication tool carefully: different media suit different people
  • we need to be less competitive and find users what’s relevant to them, even if it’s something that is offered by a different organisation
  • use ideas how people can help your organisation that doesn’t cost anything, e.g. handing out leaflets
  • use youtube to advertise events and services
  • use what people are interested in to teach them other stuff, e.g. weight loss club can be used to teach numeracy
  • meetup: crossover from online to face-to-face interaction (which is still needed)

Session 3: Using the unconference format with learners, led by @kevupnorth

  • unconferences can be non-techie, e.g. library camps
  • unplanned, unstructured and with unexpected outcomes
  • as a teacher you need to be emerged and on one level with your learners
  • the teacher as facilitator -> many skills needed to facilitate effectively
  • learners want different things
  • different learning styles to consider
  • unconferences could work for revision sessions
  • independent learners more likely to appreciate unconferences
  • great idea to run staff conferences as unconferences
  • training sessions can work as part structured part unconference
  • other events to consider: PechaKucha, BettaKultcha -> also a good structure to see staff in a different light if you use this at an event -> e.g. they can get passionate about what they like

Session 4: Emerging trends – a discovery session, led by @xlearn

Basically a long list of new things to play with 🙂 I knew about three of these tools.

  • Piratepad -> etherpad (works like a wiki)
  • bubbl.us -> for brainstorming/mind maps
  • Doodle -> easy scheduling
  • Evernote -> can become your virtual memory/brain
  • gFlashPro -> flash cards and tests
  • GoogleDocs -> I think we all use these by now
  • Google+ -> good for segmentation/targeting
  • iBooks Author -> media rich book creator
  • IFTTT -> thesaurus/mind maps/connections
  • Join.me -> free screen sharing -> good idea to use with Skype for meetings
  • Kindle apps -> use what you carry around
  • OneNote app -> note-taking
  • Path -> is twitter is too noisy (only up to 50 followers)
  • Pinwheel -> notes around the world/tourism/challenges
  • Pocket -> read stuff later
  • popplet -> mind maps/ideas tool
  • Smart Vocab app-> for learning languages
  • ShowMe -> explain something by drawing and recording
  • Springpad -> online notebooks to share with others
  • Sticky Notes -> exactly that
  • Trello -> working on a project with others
  • Visual Thesaurus -> use to generate new ideas
  • Wallwisher -> a blank page for nearly everything
  • WhatsApp -> instant messaging across different devices
  • Xerte -> open source e-learning developer tools

Now we know: The internet is in the little box in the plant pot 😉

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