Wow, so where do I start?! Last week, I spent the week in the Netherlands at the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Institute for the EMEIA (Europe, Middle East, India and Africa) Region. It was an action packed, intense week where I learnt so much from a diverse range of outstanding educators! So here is my account of a fantastic week.
Our first day started bright and early! The first thing that struck me was the presentations at the event. It was typically Apple: smooth and slick.
We were first introduced to the ADE team and board members before moving on to this years project. We were given the choice to either develop and publish our One Best Thing, a Lesson for the Classroom or to get involved in a Community Engagement project. Following this, we were asked to decide on an area of interest to focus on before finding like minded ADE’s to collaborate with and formed our Learning Community Teams. My chosen focus was augmented and virtual reality, in particular bringing classrooms to life and I was lucky enough to join a fantastic team (#VirtuallyAwesome) of educators who shared this interest.
In the afternoon the theme was Storytelling. We were treated to a masterclass in the use of iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Garageband and Logic. This demonstrated just what an effective tool media can be in conveying a story and how Apple apps enable us to create truly sensational content! The next session focused on identifying the factors which made a great story.
Each of the remaining days started with Showcases, a real highlight, whereby ADE’s both new class and alumni had exactly 3 minutes to share their story of how they were able to transform learning with the aid of Apple technology. These really were inspirational stories which demonstrated some of the outstanding work being undertaken in classrooms around the globe.
The remainder of the morning was spent looking at some of the exciting updates and developments to the Apple apps used by educators and more time spent with collaborating within our Learning Communities.
The afternoon began with an outstanding workshop which focused on the principles of design. This demonstrated how with a few simple tweaks, we could produce professional looking Keynote presentations, documents and iBooks. Later, it was playtime! We were given chance to explore some new technologies including 3D printing, drones, Spheros and more. This is something I hand not experienced before and prompted me to think about how I could incorporate more STEM activities into lessons. Prior to this, I’d never even attempted programming and coding, but tackling it in a practical sense like this was incredibly accessible and engaging!
The third day again started with some incredible showcases from ADE’s and was followed by a keynote speech from Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Bill Frakes. The photos he shared were breathtaking and it seemed that the whole room was in awe. He also provided some useful tips to help us capture the best photos possible. Following this, there was more time dedicated to working together on our projects which had started to take shape at this point.
In the afternoon, we had the chance to attend a variety of workshops, each with a different area of focus. I opted to attend those focused on creating the best courses with iTunes U, using it to teach and creating amazing digital books with iBooks Author, as these are areas I intend on working on in the forthcoming academic year. The iTunes U based workshops were fantastic. They provided some top tips on creating high quality courses, packed with engaging content and allowed ADE’s to share best practice. Furthermore, there was a chance to get to grips with the array of new features in iTunes U 3.0 which are simply outstanding! It was great to have the opportunity to speak to those who work behind the scenes on iTunes U and put forward suggestions for future developments of the platform. Finally, the iBooks Author workshop acted as a guide to effectively plan, design and share digital books. The results were phenomenal: creating books which users can interact with is far superior to a traditional, paper textbook. Also, the fact that these can be quickly and easily updated is a massive bonus.
The final ADE showcases were presented on Thursday followed by a Special Guest Keynote. There were various rumours flying around over who the mystery guest would be. It turned out that the guest was orchestral conductor and composer, Esa-Pekka Salonen. His speech focused on how technology was being used to transform live music shows. After the final project session with our Learning Communities, we had a chance to meet with ADE’s within our geo region.
This was a great chance to network and build connections with other ADE’s across the UK and beyond, something I have no doubt will continue in the future.
To cap off a fantastic week, the closing session provided a chance to celebrate the accomplishments of all and to recognise the new Class of 2015. Despite this, it has been great to see so many remaining in contact and continuing the interactions through Twitter and the ADE Online Community following Institute. Certainly a fitting end to a fantastic week!