Friday, 6 November 2009

8th AEC-NET conference in Sonderborg, Denmark

Greetings from Denmark! I have more or less been 'off the radar' for over two weeks. At first there was the presentation to prepare as we were lucky to be shortlisted for the AEC-NET award again. I wanted to introduce the audience to something new, and practised with Prezi, the new presentation tool developed in Hungary. I had some trouble downloading the finished presentation and was rather panicky at one point, since the presentation date was getting closer and closer, but with the friendly and speedy help from the Prezi team, plus totally unexpected assistance through Twitter, I managed in the end. Pheww! Thank you so much everybody!

On the whole, though, It was a lot of fun learning a totally different concept of putting a presentation together. PowerPoint is so linear and predictable, whereas Prezi forces you to start from the big picture and then add surprising details and fun parts to it. I must say Prezi did live up to its novelty value, especially since all the other presenters relied on good old PowerPoint. I got a lot of interested questions. Here is the beginning 'canvas' of the presentation, where I used pictures of lego characters as part of the illustration, since we were in Denmark.

I don't think it was only thanks to Prezi, though, that we were lucky to win another AEC-NET award for our WHAZZUP? project. We did have a very lively online community last year, where students learned a lot
about the 10 different participating schools and their respective cultures. Students were also guided to more academic blog writing in addition to the popular forum discussion and chat, where more colloquial language could be used. Many of them also produced multimedia presentations on various topics that they were learning at school. Creating a positive digital footprint, and responsible net behaviour were also among our goals, and to a large extent we did manage to get the message across.

Here we are, the winning WHAZZUP? team - I and my colleague Merja plus our student Henna, who presented with us, holding the certificate, and two of our partner teachers, Geeta Rajan, from New Delhi India, and on the right Adrienne Webb from Dublin Ireland. Adrienne, our partner for many years in various projects, has just published a very nice account of her AEC experience on the webpage of the Computer Education Society of Ireland.

As good, efficient and easy as virtual communication and collaboration is these days, I still think face-to-face meetings retain an important place in building trust and motivation for lasting partnerships. All my long-term colleagues around the world are ones that I have had the chance to meet and get to know personally outside the virtual world. I feel energized and inspired after sharing ideas with so many wonderful teachers from so many countries. The new WHAZZUP? 2009-2010 is on its way - a hopefully improved version from last year. Working on intercultural projects is an ongoing learning process that I really enjoy!

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