TeachMeet hits the Borders

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to attend my 3rd TeachMeet. This particular TeachMeet was different from my first two – both of which had been at the Scottish Learning Festival – in that it was a smaller event and was held in Galashiels. Organised by Stuart Meldrum (primarily in response to a dare from Ewan McIntosh at TeachMeet@SLF08) it proved to be no less engaging and exciting than its two bigger brothers.

Having cadged a lift down from David Muir (along with Andrew Brown of Glow fame and a rather large bag of beers), we fought our way through misguided directions, traffic, RTAs and grumpy SatNav personas towards Galashiels following the build up to, and latterly the beginning of, TeachMeetBorders on intermittent mobile coverage.

As predicted in the car 3 miles outside Gala, one of us HAD to be drawn out of the hat first and after being covered for, poor David was selected again as soon as he walked in the door. Ian King took over for him so he could grab a sandwich and told us all about Scratch, a useful free tool that I already have a ton of ideas about using. David Noble (of Hillside School and The Access Network) then gave us a Pecha-Kucha style run through the possibilities he sees for his class having their own iPhone, which seemed to hit a chord with many of the audience. Next, Jim Black ran us all through some open-source software he uses with the pupils and gave us some food for thought about how these pupils are likely to be engaging with software in the future – is it likely to be in their chosen field of employment where industry-standard software is important? For many, perhaps not.

Pretty sure there was a break for food/drink/general chat then. I got yarning to a few folk, including Stuart Meldrum and Liz Marroni who has to get a special mention for securing the venue, helping with arrangements & hosting and also for managing to de-secure the wifi access for the night.

After the break we were treated to Doug Hawkshaw telling us about how he was using Wikis to work with children of a range of abilities, giving him the ability to use the same materials with everyone whilst stretching the more able children and supporting those who needed it whilst still allowing them to access the same materials. Stuart Meldrum told us about using Comic Life and Animoto in Craft & Design with a pupil who had injured both his arms, Andy McSwan told us how he has hijacked the Top Gear cool wall with his ICT pupils (and of course, where else would an R2 D2 projector system end up but in the DB-9 fridge…?). Lorna Fraser and Nikki MacArthur from the Borders claimed to have been had been ‘bullied’ into presenting, but their talk on the Girls of Ambition/Students of Ambition programmes were excellent and showed just how well a properly planned and implemented intervention can work for the benefit of pupils.

As the evening began to wind down, David Muir spoke about iRiddles, a great idea which a lot of people liked the sound of, but it all came crashing down around him as he tried to construct one on the spot in 1m 40s! After that, Theo Kuechel gave us some insights into the benefits being gained and some great uses for images from Flickr Commons, and brought us up to date with the developments in countries uploading image archives folowing the lead of the US. David Gilmour brought the Meet part of the evening to a close sharing some thoughts on the East Lothian “One Netbook for Every Child” initiative. Fascinating stuff. After a quick clean up, it was off to TeachEat, where I had the pleasure to meet face to face some of the individuals I had previously only encountered electronically.

The long drive back to Glasgow was enlivened by a DJ duel in the car as Andrew and I waged musical war using David “The Stig” Muir’s iPod as our weapon of choice.

A most enjoyable end to a great evening. TeachMeet, it would appear, still belongs in the DB-9 fridge of CPD.