If you follow me on Twitter (which you should, @kate_bartlett93 by the way) you’ll probably have picked up on the fact that I’ve just moved house. For the past three weeks, I’ve been living in a flat with no WiFi. Despite the inconveniences it brought (how are you supposed to log into your broadband account to set up broadband when you don’t have broadband??!!) and the difficulty communicating with friends & family, I found it surprisingly OK being trapped out the ether for a bit. It was actually quite nice knowing that I couldn’t check social media even if I wanted to and it gave my boyfriend and I some peace to sort ourselves out and settle into our new home.
Having said that, I now have WiFi again and it’s AMAZING!
This lengthy intro is basically me excusing myself for having not blogged for a while, particularly for not blogging about an event which took place precisely one week ago today. I’m talking about the Annual Conference of the Association of Learning Technology (or alt-c). My University tutor Steve (@timbuckteeth) asked myself and my course-mate Becca (@Becca_Smallshaw) if we would accompany him onstage during his keynote (which happened to be the opening keynote – no pressure there then). We were asked to provide a students’ view on technology; how we use it as part of our studies, how we feel it could be utilised in the future and anything else that may arise.
We arrived in Manchester on the day before the talk. After checking into our hotel, we took a stroll down Oxford Street to the University building we would be speaking in, otherwise known as the “coke can” (check the picture, it’s obvious). Here we picked up our badges and met some other conference attendees. This was all just a warm up for the next day though, where we arrived just after 9am to set up. I couldn’t believe that the arena we were currently sat in would soon be full of people, who we would have to speak in front of! Having spoken at Bett last year (blog post linked below) I thought we would be prepared, but this was on a whole other level!
Steve started his keynote and around halfway through invited us onto the stage. Now, what do you think is the first thing you should do when stepping on stage in-front of 400+ education professionals? Well you’re all wrong – I took a selfie. Opportunities like this don’t come along very often, so out came the selfie stick. I think I actually coaxed everyone to “smile!” Brilliant.
Selfie stick away, Steve started asking our opinions on a range of topics and we answered honestly and openly. We hadn’t seen Steve’s slides in detail beforehand, but I think this just added to the chatty, honest feel to the talk; none of the questions or answers were rigorously prepared and this allowed for a much more “real” discussion. One of the biggest things I’ve learnt as a teacher is that improvisation is usually a good thing!
Following the talk we were approached, via Twitter initially, by Virtually Connecting, an organisation who facilitate online hangouts, where people can connect with each other to talk about a variety of topics and issues. Myself, Becca and Steve participated in this together, where we discussed further some of the topics from that morning’s keynote (the speech was broadcast on YouTube so people could watch even if not in Manchester), whilst exploring others also. This was great and showcased further technology’s collaboration and networking abilities; fitting for the conference we were in!
After all the excitement of the day, we were invited to attend the gala dinner in the evening at the Palace Hotel. Not only did we get to meet and interact with people who had watched our talk and are interested in similar (and different) fields to us but we got to dress up and eat fancy food too, which rounded off the trip quite nicely!
All in all, we had a great time and, again, what a fantastic opportunity presented to us by the University. The idea of it may have been scary but it just shows how you should always grab opportunities with both hands as you never know where they may lead!
A big thanks again to Steve Wheeler for presenting us with the opportunity, to ALT for letting two students invade their stage and to Bec for, once again, being my partner in crime 🙂
The full keynote can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsmCL5xuK7g
Our Virtually Connecting hangout can be found here: https://youtu.be/hFt8mT_-ROc
Other people mentioned in this post:
Steve Wheeler: @timbuckteeth
Becca Smallshaw: @Becca_Smallshaw
Virtually Connecting: @VConnecting
Link to my BETT blog: http://wp.me/s3vYEX-bett2014