Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Going the Distance: EdTechTeam Visits Rural ANZ

One of the challenging realities of a country like Australia is that the bulk of our population is gathered into a handful of large cities. As a teacher, if you happen to live in one of these larger cities you can find plenty of opportunities for attending professional development workshops and conferences. That's why when we started running EdTechTeam Summits in Australia we started with Sydney and Melbourne, but since then we have been able to bring the Summit experience to many other Australian capital cities; Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Canberra have all hosted Summits, some of them several times now, and the feedback has been extraordinarily positive. It's the same situation in New Zealand, where this year we extended the Summit experience to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. And we are planning Summits in even more places next year.

As Director of Professional Learning for EdTechTeam in ANZ, I want to see us also bring our work to those places where teachers often miss out on quality professional learning experiences; in particular to rural, regional and outback Australia. These large (and small) country towns that too often miss out because of the "tyranny of distance". 

Over the past few months, I'm proud of the fact that we have been able to work with teachers in some pretty remote places around Australia. From Mildura, way down on the Murray River, to larger regional centres like Armidale, Dubbo, Orange and Bathurst, to small rural towns like Narrabri and Bourke in outback NSW, we've been able to engage with educators to share inspiring ideas about teaching with technology, and bring the learning directly to them. It's not always easy, as many of these towns are not well serviced by commercial flights, and are often hundreds of kilometres from the next nearest town, but despite the challenge and the expense, I believe it's important that those who teach in the bush are offered the same options for quality PD as those who teach in the cities. 

As one recent workshop participant commented, "This is the best professional learning I have done in a long time!! Thank you", while another said "This is essential PL and has greatly benefited the school community here. I thank you for the effort to come outback!"

Together we can change education... whether that's one city, one town, or even one little outback school at a time! 

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