We’re better, connected.


#onandup conference, 6 May 2011, University of Plymouh

Last week, I attended the #onandup conference, organised by @ethinking and others at the University of Plymouth. This conference was designed as a CPD event for last year education students and offered a range of interesting workshops and two fantastic keynotes from @oliverquinlan and Stuart Ball (@innovativeteach). I learnt a lot from the sessions (my head hurt by the end!), and it made me really excited about getting started with my new class in September! There were many key themes flowing throughout the conference, which will be the focus of some of my following posts. 


The conference started with @ethinking showing the twitter back channel for the event (#onandup) and discussing how this was to be a ‘connected’ conference where delegates are encouraged to use twitter to connect with others and reflect on what they hear and learn. At this point, I had already been using the hashtag, and had tweeted:


Instantly, I felt embarrassed. I’m not sure why. Perhaps, because my face was visible to 200+ people, or because some of my friends and coursemates jokingly mocked me, but ultimately, it was probably because using twitter was initially viewed as a bit of a ‘geeky’ thing on my course (though it should be noted that lots of people are now joining up!). 

However, I am not embarrassed that I use twitter. In fact, I am proud of the network of passionate educators that I am a part of. I am proud that there are people with a desire to make a real difference to education, and to the learning experiences of children. I am proud of how much I have learnt from connecting with others and of the impact this has had on both my personal and professional development. As a learning tool, twitter has had an incredibly powerful impact on me.


The image above is a map of my connections on twitter; it shows where in the world my followers come from. I have a global connection with teachers, educators and classrooms, giving me a wide perspective on teaching and learning that I can use to inform my own practice. I have access to examples of effective practice from across the world and to the expertise and experience of a vast range of teachers, whom are incredibly open and willing to share. I also have access to a wide range of opinions and personal philosophies of education. In particular, the recent purpos/ed discussion, kick started by Doug Belshaw and Andy Stewart, which seeks to initiate debate around the question: What’s the purpose of education?

Through these connections, our current construct of schooling is being picked apart, confronted and challenged. This, for me, is really exciting and is someting I am positive will amount into something great, something that I hope, can truly change schooling for the better. I think the point I am trying to make in this post is that through connecting, collaborating and communicating, great things can happen. I can’t help but think that if more teachers, educators and other individuals were to actively connect, share their opinions and get involved in this dialogue, that true change could actually happen in the widest possible sense. 

Perhaps, I am being slightly naive to think this. Obviously, everyone has different opinions about the purpose of education and schooling, and there are those who are perfectly happy with how things are. However, there are a vast number of people who aren’t and sharing these opinions is never a bad thing. I can often be quite cynical when it comes to believing that things can actually change. But having connected with so many people who share a similar vision and having been exposed to the passion of many other people, I am genuinely excited about the future and sincerely believe that, despite the current state of governmental educational remodelling, it is a great time to be joining the teaching profession.


Image: ‘Connections’ by…me! 


6 thoughts on “We’re better, connected.

  1. Hi Alex-I was drawn here by a RT of @timbuckteeth which serves as another example of worlds connecting… never would I have seen it otherwise.I agree with your points about twitter and the power it has to connect many of us. I’ve just started a blog the past month and have been BLOWN AWAY by the number of folks from all corners of the earth that have stopped by and shared for a few moments.For this reason, I also am interested to see how it changes education, global perspectives and many many other things. It is an exciting time to be alive. Thanks for sharing with us all. Cheers, Brad

  2. Thank you for the comments Brad!The RT from @timbuckteeth almost proves the point – I’ve had views and comments on twitter from across the world, which I always find genuinely exciting!Thanks again for sharing your global perspective – it’s much appreciated!Alex

  3. Hi Alex,Thanks for the mention, glad you got something out of my keynote. Totally agree about the power of connections, it worries me that some teachers don’t make these connections as they are so powerful to practice and the end result which is the achievement and experiences of children. I have to say I was quite impressed with the interactions going on at this event on twitter and the like- it was certainly more connected than anything I experienced on my PGCE.

  4. Hi Oliver,Thanks for your comment! Your keynote made a lasting impression – lots of my course mates have been discussing it!I totally agree that more teachers should be making these connections as the outcomes inevitably disseminate into the classroom and children’s learning. Lots more people from the course have joined twitter this year and it is great to see them using it regularly. I think it’s now important to promote this in other year groups as my year are now graduating – hopefully word will spread and more will join!

  5. Thanks for your kind words. Great to hear that it has generated further discussion. I really think it’s not just a case of twitter, but the attitude that learning from each other and forging lasting connections is beneficial and worth doing. Like Stuart said in his keynote, twitter is not for everyone, but connecting is.

  6. <html><body bgcolor="#FFFFFF"><div>Agreed! We need a widespread ‘connecting culture’. TeachMeets are definitely working in this way. I’m excited to see how this develops over the next few years. I will definitely be promoting this when I start in school!<br><br></div><div><br></div></body></html>

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