Stephen Howell @ #GREAT15

I attended my first overseas conference today and was lucky enough to have it hosted by the MAET Year 2 students (way to go #maety2!). #GREAT15 stands for Global Resources in Educational Technology. The conference was held at the National University of Ireland Galway and attracted professionals from all over the country–hearing the different perspectives of global educators was so interesting.

They kicked off the conference with a keynote from Stephen Howell, who is an academic achievement manager through Microsoft Ireland. Stephen created an incredible program called Kinect2Scratch that combines a Microsoft Kinect controller to be sent to the coding program Scratch. He makes it possible for anyone (at any age) to code and create programs with motion control and kinetic games. I know that concept might sound confusing to some (maybe most)…but essentially Stephen has created a way to let your entire body become a controller–and on top of that, you create the game that your body controls. My classmate, Patrick, is seen below using the program. As you can see, there is a “green skeleton” outlining his body and he is using his arm movements and body to play Space Invaders. Too cool!

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Learning about Stephen’s program was amazing, however, the most powerful lesson I took away from his presentation was this: document all of your projects/ideas in an online portfolio. You never know how many doors they might open for you one day. After roughly a day of sharing his new Kinect2Scratch program online, a librarian at another school thanked him and told him how much her students enjoyed it…that librarian worked in a school that was in Australia. Pretty incredible, right?

As a new teacher, I do not always think to share my ideas/projects. I believe there are a couple reasons for this. 1.) Time. I think this applies for all educators, old and new. We have so many other things going on and do not always have the time to sit and type out a blogpost and post pictures and explain. However, one creative project changed Stephen’s life. The best solution for this issue is to set aside time each day or every couple days to blog. 2.) Lack of experience=less confidence. Thanks to social media, my PLN (Professional Learning Network) has dramatically expanded over the past two years. I have so many different types of educators to look up to and hope to be like one day. They post many projects and ideas that are so resourceful. There were many times this year when I had considered posting a project my class had done, but thought twice about it because I was not confident it was ground breaking material. Stephen made me realize that does not matter. Somewhere, someone out there will appreciate and value your work…if not now, maybe later. An online presence can open so many doors for us as educators and so many of us fail to believe that or realize that.

Stephen Howell is proof of what having a powerful online presence will do for you! I left #GREAT15 feeling incredibly motivated and plan to continue blogging throughout the school year. Keep posting, keep sharing and keep educating!

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