Beijing Learning Summit

I had the privilege of speaking at the Beijing Learning Summit on the weekend. Check out the hash-tag #bls2010 on Twitter. The event was a great success on many levels, but for me the best part was mingling with 170 enthusiastic teachers who were willing to give up their precious Saturday to share skills and knowledge with each other. Many hands-on sessions were offered by teachers with diverse experience engaging with technology.

I attended an enlightening presentation by Ann Krembs, called ‘Weavin’ the Web In’. Ann is an inspiring Elementary School Librarian at the International School of Beijing. Her enthusiasm for ‘weaving’ fantastic Web 2.0 tools into teaching and learning is infectious and I have a great new list of resources to investigate. Look at her blog at http://www.dearlibrarian.com and her great wiki which is full of useful links http://dearlibrarian.wikispaces.com . Many thanks for the great presentation, Ann.

The second session I attended was called ‘Inbox Omnitrix’, presented by my friend Tod Baker who is the IT Coordinator at the International School of Tianjin. Tod’s presentation was focussed on reducing email stress through his philosophy of clearing unwanted clutter, not only from our inboxes, but from our lives in general. I found it very inspiring and have spent today applying his simple mantra of – Do, Defer or Delete. I am happy to announce that today I have successfully reduced to a mere 5, the 4500 emails (I kid you not) which had accumulated in my school email inbox folder. Very liberating, thanks Tod. He suggested some reading on the subject: Check out ‘Inbox Zero’ by Merlin Mann; ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen and ‘Mastering Email Overload’ by Stever Robbins.

My own presentation was called ‘Wedding Wikis With Web Tools’. I wanted to show how easy it is to embed web 2.0 tools such as Noteflight scores into wikis for use with students. Also, how using and embedding active web tools can engage students and increase their creativity. I started a new wiki especially for the Summit which shows a number of my favourite tools embedded into wiki pages. I plan to use a wiki like this shortly to showcase student compositions and share them with my colleague and Northwestern classmate, Jen Brush who also uses Noteflight with her students in the United States. Have a look at my presentation at Slideshare -embedded in my wiki, naturally!

There are so many clever ideas to be discovered and shared amongst like-minded people – often working right next door in the same city or even the same school. Summits and workshops such as BLS 2010 give us the opportunity to simply get together and put our busy routines on hold for a few hours. We focus our energies on sharing what we do and on learning something new and being inspired by each other. What a great idea!

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Gerard Dutton

International music teacher and performer. Have worked in Australia, Vietnam, Tonga, New Zealand, China and Myanmar. Studied in Australia and USA.

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