ACEC2010 Digital Diversity conference has just finished and all I can say is wow. What a stimulating four days!

Sylvia Martinez was excellent. Too often keynote speakers are removed from the classroom situation and therefore only give you a ‘big picture’ scenario that poses many questions but offers little to no solutions. Sylvia’s relaxed, down to earth style, drew the audience in and offered many relatively easy solutions to many problems that are faced in schools today. 

Gary Stager’s keynote on Friday morning “You say you want a revolution?” was thought provoking and a wake up call for many I would assume. I had formed a personal opinion of Gary before the conference through my dealings with him online but quickly changed this and was blown away by his delivering of home truths and the “tough love” that he felt compelled to dish out. It was controversial – people don’t like being told that they are not doing a good job. People don’t like being told that they are having the same conversations that have been happening for 20 years. People don’t like being told that they have perhaps gone backwards instead of moving forwards. What I thought was compelling, that I think some of the audience missed, was that Gary was saying what he said because he loves kids. He is saying that kids are entitled to a quality education that is rigorous, engaging, real and relevent. He is saying that kids deserve better – I agree.

It was interesting watching the twitter stream during this keynote – it appeared that Gary polarized the audience – you either loved it or hated it. Watch the recording and make your own mind up – this would be great to have your whole staff watch and then have some (very interesting!) discussions.

Following on from this keynote was an hour and a half of Gary Stager on his “soapbox”, where those interested got to particpate in a Q&A session. Unfortunately this was not recorded, but was insightful, humorous, thoughtful, challenging and inspiring. It was even better than the keynote itself. (One of my favourite quotes from Gary was his response to the current state of teacher professional development “Teacher PD is like methadone – we know it doesn’t work, but we always need more.”)

If you are interested in watching some other recordings from the conference, you can find them here. (Thanks to Stephen Collis and Chris Woldhuis for their tireless work and expertise. These two guys from Northern Beaches Christian School are a real class act.)

What were the highlights for me? The conversations. The networking. The people who pushed my thinking. The spontaneous learnings that would happen in the trade hall…. The new friends. 

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