Last February 21-22, Terrapinn held the first ever EduTech Conference in the Philippines. Held in Function Room 1 of the SMX Convention Center in the Mall of Asia Complex, the conference featured a variety of speakers who were eager to share either their best practices, innovations in their schools, or new technologies and services. The main plenary stage saw some education heavyweights talking about the future of education in the Philippines. The smaller stage outside the plenary hall was the Seminar Theatre stage, a venue where educators could share what they have been doing inside their classrooms with technology and where businesses could market to the teachers technological tools and services that could be helpful in their teaching.
I was invited to only attend the conference at first, but was later encouraged by Mrs. Jessica Demegillo, head of the Operation NExT department of Xavier School San Juan, to register as a speaker. I was pretty sure that the speaker list was full already, but I nonetheless gave it a shot.
After looking at the EduTech website, I realized I had no idea what I wanted to share. I didn’t want to talk about writing (as I had done in previous conferences) since that included a workshop to apply the skills learned, and I was advised that the talk would be short. I settled on global citizenship instead because the work we had been doing inside the classroom ran parallel to that idea.
When I heard back from the organizers, I was honestly surprised because I thought the lineup was full. I was given a mere 10 minutes to showcase my topic: Teaching Responsible Global Citizenship in the English Classroom. I was reminded of that Shakespearean quote: “Brevity is the soul of wit.” I had to condense a typically hour-long talk to only ten minutes. Consider it: Challenge Accepted!
I had no idea what to expect at the conference, honestly, but if the previous conferences I had attended were any indication, then I figured I’d be okay. When I got there, though, the exhibition space was bigger than the plenary area, and the Seminar Theatre stage was right next to the Makerspace booth, which had its own workshops, too.
Confused? Yes, I was. I was used to conferences where everybody would gather at the plenary area and then go to different venues for breakout sessions wherein the participants would learn new skills for classroom use. EduTech had a different format. The main plenary was reserved for the paid delegates while the exhibition area, Seminar Theatre, Makerspace Manila booth, and networking area were places ANYBODY could access. Therefore, even if you hadn’t paid to attend the conference, you could still go to the different booths in the exhibition area and learn about and from companies that aim to help develop education in the country. PLDT and Globe, two of the top telecommunications companies in the Philippines were there offering services to schools. Start up companies such as Woohoo Learning Lab that sought to add to a teacher’s repertoire of skills were there as well.
Since Makerspace was in the exhibition area, you could also attend the sessions they offered. These sessions included the use of tiny gadgets that develop one’s problem-solving skills or the exploration of design thinking as a framework for planning one’s lessons and/or assessments.
The Seminar Theatre stage was also in the exhibition area. This smaller stage allowed teachers (like myself) to share how they have innovated in their classrooms.
I liked this setup because those who could not afford the high conference fee could still attend and learn. The delegates, because they had paid for their attendance, had access to other perks such as access to the plenary area and dining lounge.
What I didn’t like was the fact that the Makerspace and Seminar Theatre stage were right next to each other. I couldn’t hear myself talk.
Teaching Responsible Global Citizenship in the English Classroom
We had been dealing with claims and supporting statements and responding properly to claims (valid or not) made on social media in class. This gave me the idea to talk about global citizenship even though what I had been doing in class was more on a national level. I decided to incorporate our Face to Faith/Generation Global video conference experiences in my talk on top of how I used technology to facilitate this learning.
Basically we tackled current issues in class and simulated a social media environment where the students could respond to them in a moderated and safe space. This was borne out of the team blogging experience of the students for Face to Faith, which, in turn, came right after a video conference activity which allowed the students to speak with their counterparts from a different part of the world.
The students became more aware of the world outside their community and had become more sensitive to their classmates as well. I shared a story about how two gentlemen in my class liked the same girl from another section. One would expect heavy tension, but I shared that through the various activities the students experienced not just in English class but also in their other subjects that led them towards that sense of global responsibility and respect, they each took the initiative to talk to each other sincerely and iron things out.
I am reminded that on top of the knowledge and skills we have to teach our students, we also have the responsibility to instill in them or at the very least expose them to positive values and virtues that will guide them in the future.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to share my experience and my learnings on the EduTech stage.