Inventorium event, impressions | A successful evening!

As planned I attended the Inventorium event yesterday. Thankfully the event content and atmosphere matched the flyer's tone, as opposed to the website's (guess I'm not the audience for that one!)

The evening started with nibbles and sort of cringe worthy "networking" exercises that felt quite a bit forced but... thanks to it I actually ended up chatting to someone with a very interesting background, a woman with a 20 year long career as a software developer who's now training to become a teacher. I wish we had had more time to chat and I'll be in touch, I have tons of questions! :-) So yeah, I can sneer all I want, but it looks like these networky thingies have some value -- for better or worse!

Overall I had a very good time and found the talks interesting, sometimes insightful, and other times even inspiring. The evening started with people introducing the Inventorium project, etc. Then there was a wonderful 30 minutes keynote from Jonathan Drori about digital businesses in general and educational digital businesses in particular. This was followed by 7 short talks, 10 minutes long, by various people interested in and involved in education in some way. The speakers included a teacher and a pupil, which I think brought a very important perspective (Aron's candid talk generated many smiles!).

Random highlights:

  • Brendan Tangney, who was the second to last speaker, showed us a graph that went a bit like this:
      + 2
     / \    _ _ _ _ + 4
    /   \ /
   /     + 3
1 +

with names such as 1. "New technology trigger", 2. "Peak of inflated expectations, 3. "Trough of disillusionment" and 4. "Plateau of productivity", x axis as time. When he asked the audience what stage we thought ICT in education was at, answers varied between 1, 2 and 3. Turns out everyone was right, kinda: we have an interesting issue in ICT in education, in that we keep looping from 1 to 3, and then instead of trying to figure out how to go through the "slope of enlightenment" (between 3 and 4) we just go back to 1 with the latest technological novelty. Considering how many people mentioned the iPad and its potential for this or that, I thought that point really hit home!

  • I knew about Camara's work in Africa, but I didn't know they were also getting involved in education in Ireland, providing refurbishing PCs to disadvantaged schools and teaching training! This is great!
  • Stephen Carey, the teacher, talked to us about the Suas "Bridge 2 College" program and the gap it attempts to fill. To illustrate his main point, that collaboration between students is the best way to learn, he showed us this wonderful picture of how they've rethought the classroom layout for the program. I wish I could find the exact same picture but this one gives an idea already -- it's impossible to simply stand at the front and blandly lecture.

Classroom pictures, the class is divided in smaller walled sections

  • Martin Owen showed us the toy for pre-schoolers his company is developing... and I want some of these tiles for myself, check out the videos!!

Very happy with my evening. I will be watching out for upcoming Inventorium events and the project's outputs.