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A Handheld Dilemma

My Headteacher trusts me! How do I know? Well, I know because after following a discussion on Twitter, my Headteacher told me that if I felt that attending both the Handheld Learning Conference in October 2010 and the bMobLE on 20th May 2010 would help develop a long term plan for technology at HeathfieldCPS, I should attend both

Now I could write a blog post entirely on trust and how good it feels to be trusted in this way! However, along with this trust comes a very important decision, a decision that could be extremely important o the development of ICT at HeathfieldCPS. This decision also includes an iPad! For me to make this decision (which will in essence could cost the school £700) I need to eliminate the ‘iCarrot on the stick’ and make this decision purely on the value and impact to school. This is where 140 characters in Twitter is not enough – hence this blog post.

I need your help!

My objective will be to find out the things I don’t know about handheld technology (I know very little!) as I want to be in a position to plan the development of ICT at HeathfieldCPS for the next 5 years and the role that handheld technologies may take. Questions I would like help in answering are in respect of the Handheld Learning Conference:

How long should I attend for?
Where can I stay? (if attending for more than one day)
What can I expect to see?
What talks should I attend?
What advice can I gather from people who have been before?

I’m really excited to have this opportunity to attend such an event! If you can help me answer any other the above questions or you have anything constructive to say about the event please leave a comment. I am going to use your comments to make an informed decision about whether to attend an if so, how long for.

Thanks for your time and I really appreciate any comments left.


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  1. r3beccaF
    April 19, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    You should definitely go to the learners’ Y Factor competition, to find out from the pupils how other schools and young learners are using mobile technology. (The Y Factor is usually on the first, free-to-enter day.)

    • Mr Mitchell
      April 19, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

      Thanks Rebecca! So which days should I be going for in your opinion? I don’t think I can stay for 2 nights? That would really bump the costs up!

  2. Steve Bunce
    April 19, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    Dear David,

    The Handheld Learning conference is a great conference for content and networking. I’ve been the last two years, presenting in the seminars and last year at the research strand – which was new last year. I’ve enjoyed all three days-it would be hard to pick just one day to attend.

    There is a wide range of content, you can probably still see last year’s programme. I enjoyed the keynotes and the LTS Scotland talks.

    There is a Travelodge very nearby. I think there’s a sale on now?

    I think the best way forward is to decide what you and your school would really like to achieve or be interested in and then think whether you will gain that from attending. The main benefit I found was the valuable contacts which continued after the event.

    Hope this helps 🙂 Steve

    • Mr Mitchell
      April 19, 2010 at 5:29 pm #

      Hi Steve, thanks for your comment. HeathfieldCPS are at the point where we are about to make a move and develop ICT throughout the school. We have seen a massive impact through blogging and we want to ‘look’ at handheld learning opportunities before making the commitment to go down that route. I am able to go for 2 days as I can stay over for one night and the travel lodge you mention may be the answer!

      I understand the 1st day is free, so my hunch is to possibly attend day 2 and 3? Any further thoughts?

  3. Eylan Ezekiel (Mr BrainPOP UK)
    April 20, 2010 at 10:04 am #

    I am not sure I can add too much to Steve and Rebecca’s very helpful comments above – but there are a few points worth making.

    1 – It is very expensive – and not all the talks, events, and exhibitors will SEEM entirely relevant to you and your school. Although the event is called ‘Handheld Learning’ – there is precious little talk that is specific to handheld devices. Mostly, people use this event to discuss the opportunties and change that technology (like HHL) can offer – and demonstrations/proof of what is possible. SO, it is even more important to take Steve’s point about being as clear as you can about what challenges your Head and colleagues feel they face, and enter the event with clear questions to find answers for.

    For example, I just attended the Games Based Learning event and some of the most valuable learning I got was from the Health Care strand – which is not what I expected – but there were transferable ideas and projects for the schools sector that I would not have seen anywhere else!

    2 – There is value in the event in what is not said from the podiums – but in the ‘back channels’. The twitter streams, coffee conversations, and even in the loos – are where you often hear the most valuable contributions. Be prepared to join in! Listen in – share your thoughts … and talk to everyone, be they commercial, research, policy, or practice – as these labels do not mean as much as at other events.

    3 – Follow up – watch the best bits on the video from the event with your colleague at a staff meeting – review the ideas from the slides – share the hashtag stream – get them to see the relevance and feel part of the event you attended – as the learning from these events must spread beyond the attendees!

    I wrote a blog post last year summarising my concerns that the echo chamber of the same attendees at the same events might fail to spread the change we all want to see –

    But I am happy to say that the GBL event last month proved that there IS progress and that these events have value.

    Final bit of advice – stay close to the kitchen at lunchtime as the food comes in very small bowls and disappears fast!!! Alternatively – find some friends and escape for a better lunch nearby….

    Hope this helps you decide..



  4. Bill Gibbon
    April 20, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    Great that you identify the issues before you attend – justification is a wonderful advantage!

    You should plan to be at as much of it as you can – other posters have already indicated that just being with people is the best CPD, and you will meet twitterers that become lifelong friends. Just the way you used the network to get your questions answered is a great start. It is hard to choose the right sessions – as with most events the presenters don’t always deliver what’s on the tin – and you will *always* hear from others about sessions that were better than the one you went to, but that doesn’t take away from where you were. Check out the website and videocasts from last year to see the range and power of some of the things you’ll see.

    I don’t know about accommodation – that’s something I’ve got to face this year too (I was London based last year) but laterooms has always served me well, and I always gravitate towards Bloomsbury. If you can, get an Oyster Card before you get to London and it will save you a fortune on bus and tube fares. This saved fortune you can then spend on the food and drink at the social events, which isn’t cheap!

    Eylan above (or below – hard to tell on this blog!) has it right. Once you’ve been to HHL you’ll need to go again. Once isn’t enough.

  5. Dawn Hallybone
    April 20, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    like you my HT ‘trusted’ me to go two years ago – I presentd the work that we had been doing using the DS consoles – the first time I had presented to a room of mostly ‘unknowns’ that talk has now added a new dimension to my teaching and the use of ICT in the school. I presented last year, took children along to the Y factor where they presented – writing and delivering the presentation themselves. I was also awarded the special achievement award and also a lot of the ‘unkowns’ the previous year were now friends and as has been said above it provides a great place to network and find out.
    I do not know if I will be going this year – I hope so – if not I will def be going for the free day – this is an option if you want to dip your toes in and the GBL conference is more local to you next year. it is worth looking at the programme over the last year or two and see if it applies to your circumstances.
    As for accommodation – i live in london so tube for me – def get an oyster makes travel by tube quicker and cheaper. hope that helps in some way – if you decide to come down and want more info in need of a bed for the night – the don’t hesitate to get in touch.

  6. Infernaldepart
    May 19, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

    David, i attended HHL for the first time last year and had a very rewarding experience (as such i am returning for HHL10!). The fringe events were great as were the LTS sessions. As a secondary school looking to develop the use of Handhelds it was great to network with others who shared their experiences. Met and also followed new contacts through twitter and these have been a source of great inspiration since!
    I attended Tues/Wed and this worked out best.

    Good luck and hope you enjoy the experience this year!


  7. Derick Jones
    May 28, 2010 at 2:30 am #

    Since our community at U-2-Me provides a marketplace for knowledge seekers and providers to interact through online learning courses, ‘Handheld Learning Conference’ is of interest to me. It can help us expand our horizons. Did you get answers to your questions and any further updates?


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