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The Inaugural I-Connect Student Led Digital Learning Conference

Students as successful Digital Citizens

The cluster has had students as being successful digital citizens as an important goal from day one of the cluster. Students have assisted and presented at the three I-Connect teacher conferences and each school has for the last two years had Student Digital Adviser programmes operation in the schools. At the conclusion of last year’s conference one of the students said
“We should run a conference like this for students next year.”
The Idea was taken to a principal’s meeting and quickly approved as a goal.

They immediately saw 3 key benefits:
• An opportunity to add more responsibility and kudos to the Digital Advisers programme
• Authentic learning across three schools in which the learning would help to ensure sustainability of the DA programme at the conclusion of the cluster
• A chance to add an exciting and engaging learning opportunity to add  to  year 9 and 10 students programme  at the end of the school  year.

The Affirmation

After students had once again assisted at the I-Connect teacher conference in July they said
“We so have to do this for students in November, we better get started with the planning.”

The Initial Planning

The initial planning meeting was held at William Colenso College and involved year 9 and 10 students from the three schools.
From this meeting came the following:
• We are going to do it
• It will be a half day running from 9:30 to 12:30
• It has to be as well organised as the teacher ones and that model should be used
• It has to be an interesting programme
• A good morning tea
• The opening address and welcome have to be short
• A potential programme was put in place
• Try to get a venue that was not one of the schools – EIT (Eastern Institute of Technology)was suggested
• Develop plans for getting staff and students interested in the idea
• Set up a Facebook page for communication
• First attempt at the budget
• It was agreed that all electronic communication with the facilitator would be through the lead teachers.
• In addition to the organisers 30 year 9 and 10 students from each school will have the opportunity to attend

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Next steps
o Involve more people
o Get names for presenters of the workshops
o Conduct a survey to gauge the  popularity of workshops
o Think about ways each person could contribute

Facilitator Comment
There was great enthusiasm for the idea and a gradual development from a potential games fest to a programme with more variety and appeal. The big alert for me was I was getting a very good idea of what was important to them and it was imperative that it remained their learning experience.  It became obvious that the meetings would need to be held within their own schools in future as it was not feasible logistically to get them together. Facebook would be a sensible forum for shared communication. The communication via the lead teachers was to ensure they knew everything that was developing and I did not feel comfortable having direct contact with any of the students.

Event Development

• Enthusiastic support from Principals
• EIT think is a brilliant idea, agree to host the event, provide attendee packs, a lecture theatre and 5 classrooms/computer suites for use on the day.
• The Facilitator made several visits to each school to work with the Digital Advisers, confirmed roles in which the advisors felt they could contribute. Eg
• William Colenso - be front of house when attendees arrive, get the packs ready greet students, check the role
• Sacred Heart - opening address in the theatre and housekeeping
• Karamu - The closing address, thanks and gifts, spot prizes and “The day that was” slideshow.

• The survey was done to identify which workshops would make it to the event.
• Presenters were organised and “contacted”, there was no sense of urgency however and this did cause some anxiety for the cluster facilitator and lead teachers. Below is an example of an interaction.

Dear Christine,
My name is Mia Braddock and I am a student at Karamu High School. Your niece Romaine mentioned that you are a photographer and that you may be able to offer some of your time to help us out. We are a group of students organising a digital conference at EIT on the 23rd of November, would you be able to help us by offering a short photography course (approximately one hour) on that day? If you think you may be able to help, please contact me for further details.
Mia Braddock.

Dear Mia,
Thank you for your lovely email. I have spoken with Romaine and it would be my pleasure to help you and do the workshop.If you could just provide me with an outline of what you are looking for then I will structure the workshop accordingly. Alternatively I could just give an overview of the things I think budding photographers need to understand.
Also please just let me know time and location and if I will have access to a powerpoint projector.
Many Thanks
• Busses were organised
• Sacred Heart School year 10 hospitality class were approached to cater for morning tea and they readily agreed
• Thank you gifts were suggested and organised
• The programme was shaped to fit the 9 - 12:30 time frame
• Schools had to be canvassed for a suitable day. (Much easier said than done)

At this stage one of the students volunteered that trying to fit this into the morning was not very good planning.
“By the time we get back to school it will be part way through the day’s last period.  If the students have had a good day they will just want to go home and the teachers will not appreciate students arriving half way through a period.”

At which point everyone agreed that we should consider making it a whole day event.
• Principals agreed immediately
• The programme was reorganised
• EIT agreed to a full day programme
• Extra workshops were organised
• Presenters were contacted and confirmed.
• Sacred Heart Hospitality class were invited to cater for lunch as well as morning tea for 120 after other catering options were explored. They readily agree.
• Digital Advisers presented at  full staff meetings , year group cohorts and assemblies to advertise the event
• Each school set their own criteria for who should attend. The advisers were very keen to try to make the day accessible to a different range of students from the one’ who “always get to do the good things”.

The last two weeks of preparation were focussed on trying to ensure that everyone knew what they were doing and were well prepared. This proved to be easier said than done with exams in full swing and year 9 and 10 students understanding of the meaning of well prepared an the facilitator’s idea being at different levels of the preparedness spectrum.

Facilitator comment
However as this was an authentic learning exercise we were determined for it not to be a stage managed production and if there were issues that would challenge (without major consequences so be it) the students so be it.
Being such a busy time there were quite a few internal meetings and chasing up of students by the lead teachers at each school. Lead teachers also had some contingency plans to cover any emergencies.

The Final Two Weeks

• Advisers  went over their responsibilities
• A number practised in front of lead teachers and or/ teachers
• Others assured us they were under control
• Some realised they were nowhere near ready and had some serious preparation on their plates
• Students were asked to plan for as many eventualities and issues and how they would cope
• Two tried to change their workshops but settled for tweaking 
• An on line booking site was set up for students to register.

Facilitator Comment:

At one stage I asked athe advisers if they were happy to wear lanyards to identify them as organisers.
"No way. We should be wearing official school blazer and school Numbers Ones. This is a very important event.!"

The Final Week

Two workshops were looking a bit fragile and contingency plans were needed. The I-Connect and Digital Daze Clusters have had some interaction over the three year period and we decided to enquire if local intermediate students would like the opportunity to present a workshop. They readily agreed and within days were ready.
• Students registered on line
• Presenters continued refining their workshops
• Sacred Heart caterers, catered
• 9 advisers did a site visit to the EIT the day before to prepare themselves for their duties and presentations
• Facilitator and lead teachers crossed their fingers
• Computers to be taken apart and put back together were oganised

The Day

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Fortunately the weather was fine which made movement around the venue and feeding the guests much easier than if it had been wet. Unfortunately the day had a setback right at the start with one of the busses was later arriving than expected. However no one seemed to mind.
• William Colenso Advisers met the attendees with welcome packs that included pen, pads, chocolate, lollies, the day’s programme and venues, and an introduction to the EIT brochure.
• Sacred Heart Students presented a multimedia introduction with clarity and humour that set the tone for the day. It included a welcome from Mr Corich from the EIT.
• Three rounds of workshops followed interspersed with morning tea and lunch.
• Karamu students facilitated the review of the day with thanks and presentations of gifts and spot prizes.

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The workshops delivered by, invited professionals and teachers, a parent and students included:

• Creating your own animations and simple games using Adobe Flash.
• Digital Design and Drawing
• Photography
• Beginners guide to making Apps for Andoid Phones
• Could you be the Net Angry Birds Creator – guide to gam making
• Fun with digi-music from downloading to mixing and creating your own music
• Stop motion Video
• Creative Flair with Photoshop
• The One Minute Movie Challenge
• Minecraft Magic
Several of these were repeated due to high demand.


Facilitator comment:
Was the day a success? Absolutely! Were there things that could have been done better/ Absolutely!  Recognising these will be part of the evaluation process that has that to be done.
The students rose to the occasion brilliantly and showed maturity beyond their years. An example of this was two year 9 girls doing one of the stop motion video sessions discovered they did not have either access to the software they were expecting or have enough cameras for the group. However they coped brilliantly and facilitated some very good videos been produced.

The advisers were outstanding in the way they found opportunities to help, persevered to solve technical issues and organise morning tea and lunch distribution. No request was too big or small and they supported the presenters really well.

Another boy presenting the Flash introduction thought his workshop went really well. “It was too complicated for some of them though. I had to some attendees. I had to make the decision to leave them to potter while I continued for the people who got it.”

The catering was absolutely excellent.

A 9 year old boy who had planned meticulously was expecting to be presenting using his own projector but the EIT did not have the right connections. He overcame his uncertainty with unexpected calmness and did very well.
Our guests from the intermediate were presented with technical issues despite the checks the day before and coped really well.

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 A few early comments and feedback:

• Students heading to the busses at the end of the day were very enthusiastic.
• One Principal who met his students at the school gate indicated the students were buzzing.
• The professional photographer was so impressed she wanted to donate some prizes to students to recognised their photography efforts
• “We will definitely do this again.” Principal
• The EIT were so impressed they have offered to host the event next year,  and realising that cluster funding is finished have indicated they will sponsor the event and attract other sponsors.
• ........what a coup!  Thank you so much for taking an idea and making it happen for the kids. It would have been so easy to say nice idea but not really feasible. When the coach driver asked what we had been doing at the EIT and I explained what had just happened, he was very surprised by the whole idea - and very impressed. I think we all were. Lead Teacher


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