Guest post by: Rachel Jones. Follow Rachel on Twitter @rlj1981.
EdInvent was an event organised by Richard Taylor and OCR to encourage teachers to be more active in the design process of technology intended for educational use. I was first made aware of it from a RT by @UKEdChat on twitter, so looked on their blog to find out more about it. There had been a number of local rounds already held, and winners from each of these had been awarded a place at the final. There was also the opportunity to apply virtually, and so I made a one minute video application and was delighted to be selected to attend the final.
This was held in Cambridge and I drove up on the Friday night to arrive just in time for dinner. That evening was quite informal, a chance for all those involved to get to know each other. There was a very interesting mix of teachers who had developed ideas, and mentors, who were people who have experience in developing education technology. The mentors were all very inspiring people, and I was very impressed that they had given up their weekend to help us develop our ideas. I had the chance to talk to people who had amazing ideas and experience that otherwise I would never had met. What was particularly effective was the mix of specialists from primary and secondary, as well as from the business sector. I loved how welcome we were all made to feel, and our base room was awash with nibbles and fiddle toys as well as having a pingpong table (I am still rubbish at pingpong) and bean bags to work on/jump on when no one was looking.
[pullquote]Being a teacher with no business experience the main challenges I found was in creating a business model.[/pullquote]The Saturday morning we all met in the base room and that was the beginning of all the contestants working with the mentors. I have to say, whilst I enjoyed talking with them immensely, the process was not an easy one and I felt like my ideas were being taken to pieces and challenged. Being a teacher with no business experience the main challenges I found was in creating a business model. This certainly felt like hard work, but was also emmensly productive as each mentor added a new dimension to my thinking. We knew that by lunchtime on Sunday we would have three minutes to pitch our ideas (like a TeachMeet but scarier!) and so we all began working on making our ideas cohearent for our presentations. To help us do that we watched a demo pitch from the amazing @Nightzookeeper team, as well as @Bartoneducation teaching us about the Pixar pitch (which I then used in my classroom this week) I have to admit that by the time we went for dinner on Saturday evening I was starting to feel like I was reaching capacity for learning, but the atmosphere and atmosphere of purpose amongst those present was amazing. In thinking about it, I wonder how this sense of collective drive and purpose could be moved not just to the classroom, but also to the staff room.
Sunday morning came and it is fair to say that the contestants were feeling the pressure and all working very hard. Presentations were being made, pitches were being practiced, and we were all making last minute use of the expertise of the mentors. I think we were all at the stage of seeing how amazing all of the ideas were to make it to the finals, and the quality of what was on offer made it very difficult to know who might win. We all pitched out ideas, and were very grateful for the IT support from @Marquisdegeek and despite the nerves everyone did really well. I found myself sitting watching really seeing how the technology that had been invented would help in the classroom. The judges then went away to deliberate and announced an app designed to encourage primary school children to participate in sport the winner, and the runner up to be a more cost effective data storage system. Then prizes of internships and technical goodies were dished out, and the work of everyone there was recognised.
I didn’t feel disappointed that I didn’t win. This kind of work was so far out of my comfort zone that I had to really push myself the entire weekend. I was really proud of what I had done, but also really treasured the opportunity to work differently and to met such amazing people. I really see this as an amazing positive opportunity for educationalists, and would encourage teachers to consider getting involved if they have the opportunity. Thank you to everyone who made this event possible, and especially those who supported the contestants.