I first went to the Scottish Learning Festival in 2003 when it was SETT and have thoroughly enjoyed every visit. I even presented a seminar once. Nowadays I only get to attend on one of the days and it’s a hard choice sometimes which key note speeches I go for.

One major pleasure is to be reminded of, or introduced to, current research and thinking about learning and teaching. I have done a great deal of reading about pedagogy over the decades and have tried to put much of my learning into practice. But this can be a solitary occupation and to be in the buzzing atmosphere of the festival helps remind me why I entered teaching all those years ago.

Those of us involved in helping teachers to think about how they support young people with additional needs at times require specific and/or further learning opportunities. Our role – in enlightened schools and authorities at least – is to be change agents. Without regular infusions of collaborative learning and access to a wider community with like interests, we can become stale in our ideas and practice. The quote from Henry Ford sums it up: Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. 

At SLF there is such a plethora of activities, seminars and resources that the thirst for more knowledge and information is quenched – at least for a while. It would be a very sad day if we were refused permission to attend this free event.  Long may it continue.    

The seminars I went to reminded me of the importance of joy in learning, of play.

At one seminar, A Media Literacy Network for Scotland, Ollie Bray reminded us of the importance of internet safety with his usual charm and enthusiasm.

old tv viewing

We were introduced to a wide range of archive material from Scottish Screen:

Films are so brilliant at telling stories it’s easy to miss how rich and complex film language is.

The site provides a wealth of material to help you and your students understand the beauty of film – and help to develop genuine 21st century literacy.

Many budding filmmakers find that time spent analysing film texts has a huge impact on the quality of their creative work.

The BFI produce a number of great teacher’s packs with accompanying dvds of short films – perfect for gaining an understanding of film language. For three to seven year olds you’re best with “Starting Stories” and for seven to eleven years “Story Shorts”.

These are resources I am planning to investigate and use if I can persuade a class teaching colleague to let me. I am interested in the notion of intertextuality (the shaping of texts’ meanings by other texts ) and with Scottish Screen’s resources you can download and play with films and images to create your own. And it is axiomatic that in order for us to truly understand anything we must make it our own. And the more fun the process is, the more likely we are to learn it fully.

We also found out more about digital content available to enable young people to explore non-print texts. There is to be a new resource from the BBC, Canvas, which says it is all about getting the shows you like via the net rather than through the air.

Project Canvas will bring together content from some of the UK’s biggest channels, including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five. Viewers will be able to watch on-demand content through their television via a special set top box, expected to cost between £100-£200.

 LTS also has a project entitled Canvas which looks hugely exciting: canvasIn essence CANVAS (Children’s Art at the National Virtual Arena of Scotland) is a virtual art space where Scottish pupils can exhibit their still or moving image art. Access to CANVAS will be through Glow (full Shibboleth Authentication) and with this comes the opportunity to exhibit pupils’ work, in a safer and securer environment, to the huge audience of pupils and teachers throughout Scotland. Not only will pupils be able to exhibit their work but they also will be able to appear in-world, represented by a virtual character called an avatar, so that they can talk via a chat facility to gallery visitors who come to visit and view the art works on show in CANVAS. 

 I then listened to a presentation about the use of Second Life in education which reinforced the notion that children learn as they play and, most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.

I’ve used up too much time and space here so shall think more about this in a further post.