#edchatNZ is planning for its first conference, moving the vibrant online community of tweeting educators offline and into the ‘real’ world.
The aim of the conference, to be held on the 8 and 9 August 2014 at Hobsonville Point Secondary School, is to connect and empower passionate and proactive educators, and to give all teachers access to quality professional development. Sponsors include Network for Learning, Furnware and NEAL.
“People have been a part of the fortnightly Twitter chat for so long but some have never actually met,” says Danielle Myburgh, founder of #edchatNZ and elearning SCT at Hobsonville Point Schools. “You build these massive relationships with people, but haven’t met them in person.
“The first driving factor of the conference was to organise an official get together for everyone to meet.”
While the objective of the conference is to put faces to names – or in this case, Twitter handles – Danielle says the focus has evolved into something much more meaningful.
“Why on earth is good professional development not available to all teachers?” Danielle asks. “How can I give more people access to good quality professional development and relationships that can inspire them to be better?”
So, says Danielle, the conference is about empowering all teachers, targeting those who traditionally miss out on professional development opportunities.
To enable the conference to be accessible to all educators, the cost to attendees will be minimal, and sponsors are being sought. Catering will be provided at a cost; those wanting to save their professional development pennies are encouraged to bring their own lunch.
The planning of the conference is also interactive, with the opinions of potential attendees sought regarding preferred dates, and keynote and workshop topics. The plan is for attendees to also have the opportunity to see the brand new Hobsonville Point Secondary School in action.
An established element in the online education environment, #edchatNZ is now approaching its second birthday on Twitter and has over 1000 followers.
Danielle originally created the hashtag #edchatNZ in the hope of finding like-minded educators. Determined to make the most of the Twitter platform, she set up fortnightly chats on a Thursday, inviting educators to firstly vote on a topic for discussion and then participate in the chat.
The ethos behind #edchatNZ is sharing, which is why the Twitter platform works so well, says Danielle.
“#edchatNZ is all about people who are proactive and who aren’t going to let anything stop them. It doesn’t matter what the policies say, or what the schools say, they are in education because they care.
“The educators who are on Twitter are all about sharing for the good of education, not for the good of the individual,” she says.
“It’s not just happy, fluffy sharing either. It’s challenging - it’s always asking why, and what are the benefits for your students? At the end of the day it’s all about the students.”
For more information and to register, go to www.edchatNZ.blogspot.com or join in the conversations on Twitter at #edchatNZ