iPadpalooza 2016 Gold Coast
September holidays 2016: 180 educators from across the globe came together at St Hilda’s School for a digital technologies professional learning opportunity like no other.
What made it so special? Was it the Hawaiian shirts given to delegates, the fantastic flexible learning spaces at St Hilda’s School? Or was it the generous and talented presenters, the amazing keynotes or the purposefully playful atmosphere? It was all of these things, a serendipitous perfect storm that was the learning festival: iPadpalooza Gold Coast.
iPadpalooza originated in Austin Texas, the brainchild of Carl Hooker. It is a celebration of creativity, social collaboration, engagement and the compelling ways educators have integrated digital technologies into their classrooms. While there are a few iPadpalooza events in the United States, iPadpalooza Gold Coast was the first time that it had been taken abroad.
The iPadpalooza Gold Coast learning festival was a year in the making, being run entirely by teachers for teachers – we created the conference we wanted to attend!
Delegates knew this was going to be a different professional development experience. The Hawaiian shirts, leis and a boat full of beach balls set the stage for two days of fun, creativity, collaboration and learning.
With 57 workshops led by inspirational speakers (teachers), delegates with varying degrees of expertise were exposed to a breadth of content, which was engaging, relevant and achievable for teachers to take-away and use in their classrooms.
St Hilda’s students from Years 4, 5 and 6 were the experts in ‘The Technology Playground’. They demonstrated to delegates how to code a sphero or ozbot, drive dash through obstacle courses, and fly drones through hoops.
The Keynotes were inspiring and relevant. Michael Carr-Greg talked about mindfulness and the role of technology in managing mental health in young people, while Troy Hunt enlightened us about the ‘dark web’, hackers and the importance of password security.
One of the highlights for many delegates was our ‘Next Generation’ session – showcasing three teenagers doing incredible things. Christopher Hills, who was born with athetoid cerebral palsy, dazzled the audience as he showed how assistive technology has enabled him to defy the odds in his work as a video editor; Taj Pabari told us how he went from suspended schoolboy to innovator, and entrepreneur; and Bella Paton, a songwriter, guitarist and beautiful singer, and a St Hilda’s student, shared her musical journey. There was not a dry eye in the house at the end of their presentations.
iPadpalooza Gold Coast was made possible by countless hours of work by the diverse talents of the Apple Distinguished Educator team at St Hilda’s: Cathy Hunt, Dan Martinez, Beth Claydon, Geoff Powell, Janelle Maurer and Terry Jacka .
Our delegates left the ‘learning festival’ with an armful of ideas, prizes, and a list of new contacts to help them energise the learning experience for colleagues and students in their own schools.
Find out more by visiting the iPadpalooza GC website at www.ipadpaloozaGC.com, and follow us on twitter and Facebook.
Written by: Terry Jacka and Janelle Maurer
Photos by: Rick Connors