-> 2009 -> Education 2020 Unconference on Islay

Saturday, 13/Jun/2009

Education 2020 Unconference on Islay

Before all the attention moves on to the Islay Beach Rugby today I would like to provide a quick report from an event I attended in Bowmore yesterday, the Education2020 Unconference. I'm not sure of the exact number (somewhere I've got 43 in my head), but more than 40 teachers, education professionals and other people just generally interested in education (like me) met on Islay yesterday to discuss the future of education and how it might look in the year 2020.

Picture of a man presenting to a group of people

It's mostly Ian Stuart's and Andy Wallis' of Islay High School fault, who kicked off the Education 2020 wiki which ultimately led to the unconference event on Islay yesterday. After a lot of discussions through various online tools (the wiki, Twitter, flash meetings etc) it was now time further discuss the topic face to face. The day started with a presentation from various members of staff at Islay High School as well as a number of students at the school (where in particular the students did a great job, standing up in front of a group of 40+ strangers can't have been easy for them). They spoke about the curriculum changes at Islay High School, the School of Excellence program and how it impacted the way they worked and how it benefited them.

Picture of a chef preparing scallops in whisky

We were treated to a very nice lunch from the students in the catering course after having been given a guided tour through the school's facilities with an insight into some of the vocational courses. The early afternoon was used as ‘accommodation check in time’ for the late arrivals while others met for further discussions at the school. There was a tour of Bowmore distillery for those interested before it was time for the main event. Supported by some excellent food (local venison sausages and fresh scallops cooked in whisky) from FCINSL- Catering Islay (where several former students of the catering course now work) the main event took place in the Bowmore distillery warehouse #4 conference room.

Picture of a large group of people discussing a topic in a conference room

In what is called a Knowledge Cafe format we discussed topics like ‘assessment’, ‘the learning environment’ and ‘skills’. Smaller teams discussed their experiences, views and expectations before the whole group came together again for further review and discussion. The discussions were very interesting to follow, often heated and I believe brought a lot of new and different viewpoints to most of the participants.

Picture of three musicians with two guitars and a mandolin

While the main event ended after a good three hours of structured discussion this didn't mean the discussions were over: We went over to Duffies at the Lochside Hotel where the conference continued in a more informal setting. There was music by a variety of players and singers (three guitars and a mandoline were played) while people were chatting about the day and generally networked. Partly inside the bar, but mainly outside with great views of the Paps of Jura and the sunset over the Rinns of Islay we all enjoyed the evening.

A great event I think enjoyed by everyone involved. What started off as an online discussion turned into an offline face to face event (unfortunately more offline than planned, as due to server problems a planned parallel flash meeting couldn't take place) where we could meet and get to know people we had previously only known online. A lot was learned in a fun atmosphere. Many thanks to everyone involved at Islay High School, in particular Ian and Andy!

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