On Saturday, I attended #MozFest for the first time. Here’s what I did and thought about it…
To sum up, MozFest was a valuable experience for me. I had conversations I did not expect to have with people whom I would not have otherwise met. This was my bespoke day – every person must have had a different experience – the opportunities are diverse because the people who attend are from all sorts of walks of life.
Arrived after the keynote/introduction – venue easy to get to via tube from King’s Cross. Coffee and snacks available at less than high street prices. Lunch included in the ticket. All good. Loads of people from all age ranges and places and sub-cultures – a funky mix.
Nine floors of techpreneurs and play-makers of all shapes and sizes – far too much to see and do. I wandered around the floors setting my bearings and experienced some interactive art installations. The nine floors make up different zones and spaces as explained in detail here. There was definitely a lot to stir the mind. In fact I got a bit lost and spent time looking for something concrete to do. I attended a session run by friends of mine, Doug Belshaw, Bryan Matthers and John Bevan – three quarters of WeAreOpen Cooperative. Bryan led a session on thinking sideways which I found to be rewarding because he made us use pictures to think. Sound daft? Well try it for yourself. It applies constraints to what you can output which forces you to condense your thinking. Bryan set different goals for the output such as to draw the most valuable thing you had received a certificate for or that you wished you had. Then a method of profiling your target audience, and a session designing an open badge that you think your subject requires. Great analysis of the what, where, how, when, who, why analysis which always needs scrutiny in my experience.
Next up I had the good fortune to attend a session on Safari in the Masai Mara. This was a serendipitous affair because I am in the process of setting up a mobile computer classroom in the Mara as an outreach community liaison project between Governors Camp and local Kenyan schools. Steph travelled to Kenya with her husband and they decided to move there. Software engineers by trade, they work and live in the Mara, and Steph is currently sourcing ways to empower local people through entrepreneurial practice. Initially she has done this through Discover Mara and is helping Jacob Nkurruna to establish himself as an independent safari guide. Also, Steph is working with Christie Bahlai to develop a method of using data from photography to catalogue the relationship between animals and bioactive plants used as medicine by the Masai for generations. We talked about how our projects might overlap. The curriculum I will be designing is to address Mara conservation issues and help local people understand how the wildlife can help support their lives so that the land that is home to these creatures is not repurposed. Steph has fantastic ideas for cultural tourism to complement the safaris. Hopefully we will be able to help each other out in the future and she said she’s interested in meeting the pupils I will accompany over there next year. An awesome connection made.
My final session was looking at DreamYard’s work with portfolios in schools in the Bronx. I found their session odd as most of those sitting alongside me were from Chicago. Nonetheless it was interesting to see how other teachers are using portfolios. What would you put on your one URL to tell the world who you are and why you’re the one to be chosen?
They had some valuable insight into:
- using free tools (Wix, Tumblr, Google Suite),
- how to get your school on board,
- balancing process versus product,
- the need for pupils to learn to curate their own learning into digital formats.
I am not sure portfolios of this sort have a future in my school, but I repeatedly return to the idea of getting pupils publishing online and connecting with the world outside the classroom as the web now affords us to do. Maybe this will prove helpful in time.
MozFest done. I will go again. And I recommend you go too. With or without shoes.
Also published on Medium.