Off to Nerd School I go!

Off to Nerd School I go!

What is different between this morning and any other morning well. Normally I would be sitting in my study at home, with my heater running, on my computer while everyone is asleep. Today I am sitting in a really nice room at the Burswood InterContinental Hotel, no heater and it is a bit cold, typing on my computer as my girlfriend is snoring. This is our second night here – and we decided to stay because we are attending the Training Forum and we wanted to spend time with our friends from the Eastern States were fly into WA for the event. The Training Forum is a key event in the vocational education and training i.e. VET in WA for providing professional development for lecturers, teachers, trainers and assessors in the VET sector hosted by the Department of Education and Training. All rather nice, except for the snoring, and while I miss the kids, it is nice just to have time to catch up with people – might be important to note here that I only live 20 minutes from the hotel.

So what have I learnt so far – well I became considerably more familiar with Perth’s domestic airport on Sunday, after picking up Marcus at 10.00 am, Michael at 4.00 pm and Daniel at 8.45 pm. Definitely a bit like ground hog day – although would have been nice to realise that I could have used valet parking with Marcus and I would not be $10 out of pocket. Also good idea, to leave in plenty of time to pick up person from airport if you do not have their mobile number and have never meet them. Almost did not get to pick up poor Michael after losing parking ticket, having to find machine that worked, and then barrier not accepting parking ticket so had to wait for them to open the barrier to let me out of the car park.

Next lesson is a lesson in packing. Let me see – 1 laptop, 3 student PDAs, 1 lecturer PDA, my PDA, spyglasses, digital camera, digital video camera, video ipod, ipod recorder, bell charger – check. Socks, hair brush and toothpaste ?????? Oh well, I suppose I packed the important things. All my husband’s fault because he normally nags me to make sure that I have packed everything.

Yesterday I spent most of the day networking with friends but I did manage to fit in time to attend Nerd School. This wasnerd-school1.jpg an excellent presentation by RayTuckey from Great Southern Regional College on the nerd school program that they run for their staff. The principle of Nerd School is no one is an expert, staff come together and teach each other skills, by doing so all increase their skills with technology. He discussed several important aspects of Nerd School, however the most important one that I can remember is CC – which at the time I thought had to be creative commons – but no, much more important, for Nerd School to work you need to have plenty of coffee and cake.

Ray’s philosophy with technology and lecturers is that we need to bridge the gap between digital natives and digital immigrants – the way that our students learn because they are digital natives is very different to how we learn. He discussed lots of great points about these differences finishing with the final point that technology is the friend to the digital native whereas technology is the uneasy partner to the digital immigrant (which is most our lecturers). At home our students are surrounded by a rich environment of digital devices, and it is normally for them to multitask; when they come to our classes they are basically powering down from from their normal life because we are teaching them how we were taught.

Ray goal is to get technology, such as PDAs, into lecturers hands, to make them more comfortable with technology by running programs like Nerd School as strategies to narrow the digital gap between the educators and learners. All participants in their Nerd School program get a Certificate at the end of the program to say they have passed Nerd School. As part of this session yesterday, the participants were broken off into groups and went through the process of being a Nerd School participant. We all got a Certificate (but I forget to collect mine 🙁 ). I was going to have it framed.

Oh well time to get ready for the next day of the Training Forum – and with a busy week of professional development workshops to attend lets hope I have the energy to get through the week.

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