Thursday, 9 October 2008

Day One of ULearn

Up bright and early, I marched off through the streets of Christchurch in the beautiful spring sunshine, to register for Ulearn08. I have to say that Christchurch really is a beautiful city, I love all the parks & the old stone architecture – it’s just magical.

Arriving as the doors opened I trot up to register – so much easier when you’re there before the crowd. Collected my registration pack, which included a nice USB data stick as a thankyou for presenting – Thank you CORE Ed.

Trotted up stairs to the presenters lounge to get my laptop configured – pretty easy really – just a case of turning it on. Saw Toni while I was there and said Hi. Then I wandered downstairs to check out the posters for the Microsoft Innovative Teacher awards. The posters were amazing, and the amount of work and detail involved was just astounding! They also have to do a six minute presentation before the judges – I’d hate to have that job. Met up with Marnie & David K there – which was really neat I’d met Marnie before but only knew David through his blog “Turning the SuperTanker”. It was nice to catch up with people I knew so I didn’t wander aimlessly. We headed upstairs to the presenters lounge to just chill out for a while.
While we were there Rachel & Lenva arrived so I had a nice time catching up with everybody. Went downstairs to get my list of delegates & there was Erin at the registration desk – so it was hugs all round.

Finally it was time to head off to the keynote. The sense of anticipation was starting to build – I was here & Ulearn was about to begin! For the first time ever I had my laptop open & was using it to take notes instead of the old pen & paper method. I was also able to follow the back channel of tweets through Twitter which were starting to pour in thick & fast. Chris Carter was up first – I was really enjoying the video he had to support his talk of educators & kids around NZ doing their thing – some awesome stuff happening there. Next up were Sheryl Nausbaum- Beach & Will Richardson – they presented together, taking turns to share the presentation. I think they raised some interesting points that are well worth thinking about. Some of them will take a lot more mulling over I think. I shall blog about them separately though.

After the keynote it was morning tea & then time for the 1st breakout. Had an awesome time at Andrew Church’s session. We did an online learning styles test (apparently I’m multimodal – a polite way of saying indecisive???). Then he took us through all kinds of tools and applications that could be used to reach & strengthen different learning styles. One of my favourites was “Rasterbator”! The name’s a bit of a worry, but it was a really cool application, you can basically take any size photo & blow it up as big as you want – way cool. I did discover that small pixel sizes work better.

Next up was lunch and I got a chance to catch up with Jamin, Jane, Suzie, Simon & Fiona. I also got to chat with my old DP from Levin who is now the principal of Coley Street School – nice to catch up.

The end of lunchtime saw my Breakout arriving! Allanah was doing the first taster session in the room & I was next. Allanah and I had never met face to face before so it was awesome to finally get to meet her. I kind of hung out in the corner during her presentation, enjoying the calming effect of the Jack Johnson album she had playing, as by this stage my hands were starting to shake for some inexplicable reason.
And then it was my turn! So here I was with 20 odd faces staring at me waiting for me to start. So I counted to 10, took a calming breath, and off I went for 40 odd minutes talking about VoiceThread & all it’s many charms. I was pleased that people asked questions, nodded, smiled, laughed and interacted - did all the right things. I figured at that point that I must be doing ok as no – one was asleep, so it’s all good. Now I just have tomorrow’s biggie to look forward too and then I’m done!
Headed back up to the Blogger’s CafĂ© afterwards and caught up with some of the others, including Barbara who I hadn’t seen all day. Simon had a really funky microphone that recorded what you said as an mp3. You then plug it into your computer via a USB connector on the other end and voila! Great for sharing news, group discussions etc. Totally kid proof apparently. At $85 dollars I was thinking it was a little bit ouchy, but very cool and of course it was another toy to add to my wishlist.
Stopped a while with Suzie and just chatted as by this point I was feeling exhausted, a bit headachy & just a tad over whelmed – it was nice to have some peace.
Caught up with the rest of the crowd from school and we headed off to dinner at Portofino. So now I’m in bed blogging, just processing through the day. Have a lot to think about. There’s a lot going on and only so much time to get it all done. Please excuse the lack of links – I’ll go back through my post tomorrow if I can and add them , otherwise I’ll get them in place by Saturday – no internet access in the hotel so I have to do what I can between breakouts, etc while at the conference venue.
I promise I’ll blog the key notes properly as soon as I can. But I think it’s time for zzz’s as I’m up at 6am to get ready for the Blogger’s Breakfast and it’s just gone midnight.
Having a ball though. One of the best things for me has to be meeting up with everyone from my PLN – it’s just fabulous.


  1. It was exciting to meet you as well- we are now real friends not just virtual ones.

    You did great to get a blog post out at ULearn. My next step for a conference is to get a vodem so I don't have to rely on other people's internet.

    It is really dumb that I am at my least connected when I am at a conference but most connected with 'real' people.

  2. I totally agree Allanah - not being able to be connected once I left the ULearn venue was driving me nuts (Could I be a tad addicted?...Nah!). A vodem sounds like a fantastic idea. But you're right - we were able to really connect with real people and that's a good thing too. :)