Well, today was the day of the much anticipated (by me, at any rate) Achievement Show 2009. An early start, a reasonable train journey (2.5 hours) and a brisk walk (the recommended Tube station bringing me out at exactly the opposite side of the stadium to the only available entrance) and I was in.
Having never been to this type of conference before I had absolutely no idea what to expect. There were 10 or so exhibitors’ stalls, a round room made of cardboard with no roof for the smaller and more frequent talks and 10 other ‘zones’ (rooms) for larger and longer talks.
I watched a couple in the round room and was relieved that it was a relatively small room with around 50 chairs, but the noise level was awful. The first speaker had to get half way through his talk before being provided with a radio mic and the sound stopped dead halfway through the room as the only speakers were at the very front.
I bumped into a couple of twitterers (@mikeherrity and @gideonwilliams, in strictly chronological order of meetings) and delivered my presentation at around 14:20 (so only 20 minutes behind schedule). The presentation went well and was packed out (standing room only by the end), if rushed (although I think that suited the style of the presentation anyway and I certainly can talk!). I saw quite a few people scribbling like mad as I romped through the tools in the presentation and hope that a few people caught my website address and email at the end.
Overall I have to say I was a little disappointed by the rest of the show. There were a couple of talks that made me think (using e-book readers, annotation and authoring packages, Learning Platforms, creating podcasts/videos for revision) but nothing really new and a lot of the talks were clearly sales pitches (am hoping that Thursday night’s TeachMeetNE will be quite different). Also, the ‘Speaker’s Corner’ to which we were apparently to retire could not have been further from where we were talking without being outside the stadium.
A lot of the more major talks were centered on leadership, Maths, English, Science or Diplomas – none of which are immediately relevant to me.
I did talk to some nice people from Channel 4 Learning who were trying to sell a subscription to their service (just £5k for the first year!) and must get around to FINALLY trying the Yenka sequencing application. And I did get a day off timetable.
I think that (without wanting to sound arrogant) I am spending a lot of my time talking to innovative people trying lots of exciting things, and as such, the topics that make it to conferences like that seem a little stale in comparison. I’m not in SLT, I don’t use Sharepoint and I don’t want to spend several thousands on a whole school resource (I do think that a significant proportion of those there were Assistant or Deputy Heads).
Or maybe I’m just a miserable git.
I did enjoy myself though 🙂