Scottish Learning Festival 2014 (Part 1)


The Scottish Learning Festival took place on 24 & 25 Sept in SECC Glasgow. The Scottish Learning Festival has been running for a number of years organised by Education Scotland which is an organisation not too dissimilar to PDST. It is a free event which is organised on similar lines to BETT, where there is a trade show element as well as a CPD element focusing on a range of multiple concurrent seminars on a wide range of topics. The target audience are the primary and secondary teachers of Scottish schools. This year there were about 15 sessions running at the same time including a “keynote” talk taking place in an auditorium, a bit like Theatre 1000 at the most recent CESI conference in GMIT.

This year was my third year at the Scottish Learning Festival although it was six years since my last visit. In 2008 there was a real buzz around with a large crowd attending both days. This year there was noticeable reduction in crowds as well as a smaller tradeshow element. At BETT the major suppliers like Microsoft, Google and Dell have huge eye catching stands while this year’s SLF, the large stands were dominated by Education Scotland, Scottish Qualifications Agency and Glow, Scotland’s National Intranet. The first time I came across the Scottish Learning Festival, it was known as SETT which might belay its Ed tech roots. There was a noticeable reduction in the amount of ICT on show as well as the huge Food science (Home Economics) healthy eating bus which took up the back of the main hall back in 2008. Talking to a few people on the stands is that the SLF has declined in size for the past number of years. Even the exhibition hall in the SECC used for SLF, is one of the smaller halls available. Schools are less willing to release teachers to attend or even present. It was also noticeable with the amount of Education Scotland staff delivering talks where as in previous years it was more teacher led. It would be like the CESI conference dominated by PDST. In other years, some teachers would give frank and open opinions about the then LTS (Learning & Teaching Scotland now amalgamated into Education Scotland) knowing some high ranking LTS or Dept of Education officials in the audience.

So why did I go? In previous years, I have learnt a lot from some great people. LTS in the late 2000s had some seriously talented people with Ewan McIntosh, Derek Robertson and Ollie Bray delivering some cutting edge work on social media and use of technologies in the classroom. At the time Scottish schools were leading the way Teachmeets flowered at SLF in those years. It was the first time I heard Tom Barratt (2010 CESI Keynote) at his debut Teachmeet talking about the interactive table he got on loan from Phillips. More about Scottish Teachmeets later. Through the folks I started following on Twitter from   SLF (that is when I got Twitter), I found out about the Education 20:20 event which was organised by Ian Stuart on the Isle of Islay where I got to meet some great people and make some good friends over 12 year old Bowmore scotch.

My focus was on digital literacies, history and Glow which runs on Office 365. I have also have had an interest on how the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence which was a cause of “grumblement” at my last visit. Due to flights, I arrived in the afternoon and attended a session on social studies lead by a teacher from a local Catholic school feedback on their progression within CfE. The next session was again school based with an Edinburgh school had completed a cross curricular project based around the schools link with WWI. BBC Scotland produced a 5 part radio documentary based on the project which a BBC Scotland contact of mine was involved in. We were tweeting each other through the session yet ended up missing each other in the crowd. The final session was presented by two seconded teachers to Education Scotland who are involved with the development of Glow of who I had met before. It is really impressive how Glow has improved from the Sharepoint offering of 08/09 to the Office 365 based platform now.

[Part two of this DigiTeach Blog Post will be available next week…]


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