Tuesday, August 04, 2009

ICT and Careers Expo Experiences

On Saturday I went to the ICT and Careers Expo put on by VITTA, “an event designed to present diverse career opportunities in ICT to school leavers.” As usual at this type of event there were many exhibitors and workshops to help students make up their minds about future careers and showing them how ICT is involved in many careers. There were two sessions that I would like to highlight here as I learnt much from them and enjoyed them also.

One of the sessions, and there were many to choose from in each time slot, was called “Want to make a difference? Find out how using Twitter and Facebook can create a better world”, a title that called out to me as soon as I saw it. It was put on by Jasmin Tragas from IBM where she works in marketing and communications. Jasmin is interested in “creative ways to use social media for positive change, most recently raising funds and awareness for a $10,000 Opportunity International Australia women’s microfinance program in the Philippines” The talk was made interesting both by its structure and its content – It was structured by the alphabet and she spoke about people who were making efforts to make a positive difference in the world. Nearly everything and everyone she spoke about were new to me and I was again amazed at how wide this network is after just passing my 4th anniversary on this blog. The learning continues and gets deeper and more interesting and it is of course the people you meet that make it so. I encourage you to have a look at Jasmin’s work.

One of the people she spoke about was Amy Jussel of Shaping Youth, a forum about media and marketing’s influence on kids, always an interesting topic. Another was Phaedra Boinodiris of Serious Games Ning. Serious Games (SGs) or persuasive games are computer and video games used as persuasion technology or educational technology. From the ning: “The games are intended to provide an engaging, self-reinforcing context in which to motivate and educate the players. Other purposes for such games include marketing and advertisement. The largest users of SGs are the US government and medical professionals.” This is something I waant to find out more about.

Another interesting person was Daphne Nederhorst who “had the unique opportunity to visit communities in the most poverty stricken areas of the world.” She “was deeply touched with the problems in these areas while being mesmerized with the strength of the local people to find solutions to their local challenges” and her desire to create a better world led her to initiate SAWA which “uses media tools to empowering unsung grassroots leaders in the world's 50 poorest countries that have found innovative solutions to end extreme poverty.”

Another session that will definitely have ongoing effects on me was the session by Alastair MacGibbon of the Surete Group. He spoke on “safety and security of students, parents and teachers in a wired world: achieving an online civil society.” It was such a breath of fresh air to hear Alastair speak, and in such contrast to people like those who spread fear and gloom as mentioned in this blog post by Tania Sheko. Alastair is most interested in education and speaks about the internet as a reflection of society as a whole. Just as there are dangers in the offline world that we teach our children/students to negotiate so there are dangers in the online world and these must be part of the discussion rather than the banning and filtering that so many political voices seem to suggest are the way to go. It was great to be a part of this day. The day the culmination of a week of activities and I was also involved in the Industry Bus Tour which I will write about in another post.

Image attribution: Teleport tunnel! by Orsorama

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Life Changes

For the last few months I have had some significant changes in my life. At the start of 2009 I started my new job at a new school and within a few days of starting my 17 year old son had a severe head injury which resulted in a brain operation, a stay in Intensive Care at Monash Hospital (a great place to end up if you are in the position of needing Intensive Care) and some time in the ordinary ward, as well as starting Year 12 a month after school started. It was stressful for the whole family, as he couldn’t be left on his own for the first two weeks at home. After a term and a half of struggling with my job in this situation I decided to resign from my new job (I started teaching in 1978) and put my time where it was really needed. Kieran had started to go to school half time and needed lots of support at home to make this happen. I have now been at home for two and half months and half very much enjoyed concentrating on one thing rather than juggling the many things that come with being a teacher. I’ve been gardening, making compost, cooking meals from scratch and looking for specials in the supermarket. I felt so lucky that my husband was in work and could support us on his income.

But now there is another change. Before I had even thought of what I would do in the future if I wasn’t a teacher in the classroom, I heard about a job opportunity where I could engage deeply with ICT in education part time. So I went for the job and will be starting in two weeks time. I will be working as a Project Officer in the office of the Victorian Information Technology Teachers Association “a non-profit organisation supporting information and communication technology teachers at primary schools, secondary colleges and universities and other tertiary education institutions in Victoria, Australia.” This past week has been ICT week and VITTA is working closely with both the Victorian Government and the Australian Computer Society in promoting excellence in ICT education and ICT career pathways. I was fortunate to go to the Bus Tour and the ICT & Careers Expo. But that is a topic for my next blog post