I know from my own experiences that it’s challenging to build a compelling case to be released from school to attend any event taking place on a school day, whether that’s an important meeting, vital in-service training or an inspiring conference. ‘Rarely Cover’ policy and diminishing staff development budgets make it even more difficult for teachers to meet their professional development needs within directed time.

‘exabytes’ is a teaching and learning with technology conference with a difference that I’m organising to take place on 23rd June 2016, more details at: http://exa.is/exabytes

If you’re serious about attending, you’d need to have sought permission to attend by the first week of June, which gives me all 31 days of May to provide you with enough reasons to attend exabytes, hence the hashtag #31WaysInMay.

#31WaysInMay is my quest to assist you to convince your line manager or SLT of the benefits in allowing you to attend exabytes. Each day in May, I’ve been sharing another compelling reason for you to attend exabytes, but clearly, the longer you leave it, the more difficult it’s going to become…

Way #31 – Get the support & guidance that you need

With over 30 workshop sessions to choose from and frequent breaks throughout the conference day, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to seek answers to your technology questions and find solutions to the problems you face in your school. Our workshop presenters and delegates represent a variety of experiences from teaching children aged 5 to 18 in the state sector and independent schools from around the UK.

Way #30 – ‘Plan B’ for when the tech lets you down.

You’ll know if you have a lesson that relies on technology to for it to succeed that the technology can let you down at the worst possible time. While it’s always worth having a ‘Plan B’ contingency plan up your sleeve, these can take an inordinate amount of time to organise. The ‘exabytes’ conference shares practical strategies for teaching and learning with technology, you’ll be able to discover resources like CS Unplugged (among others) to help you out with a Plan B for those times when the tech lets you down.

Way #29 – It won’t cost £100s to attend ‘exabytes’

If you’ve ever been to a conference in London or other major city, you’ll know that total cost of attending, travel & accommodation can easily cost £500-£700. However, with direct rail connection from many UK locations to the exabytes hotel, all day parking free/£3 and budget accommodation for £34 (Travelodge) or 4* for £60 (Midland Hotel) and conference tickets costing just £50 +vat, it’s going to cost most delegates around £100 including an over night stay. As we our hosting TeachMeet Bradford at the conference hotel the night before exabytes, why not make a night out of it?

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Way #28 Chromebooks, iPads, Surface or Android Tablets?

If your school is poised ready to purchase a set of 1:1 devices for your school, shouldn’t you find out from a range of schools which device they chose and why? At our ‘exabytes’ – teaching & learning with technology conference, we’re encouraging delegates to bring their own devices along (BYOD) giving all delegates opportunities to discover the reasons behind device purchasing decisions as well as learning about the shortcomings of each.

Way #27 – Discover The Best Free Teaching Tools

Whether it’s true or not that “the best things in life are free”, the fact remains that there are many wonderful teaching tools and learning resources that are free or cost next to nothing. At the ‘exabytes’ – teaching & learning with technology conference, you’ll hear from primary & secondary schools that are using these tools, try some of these tools and learn about the advantages as well as the limitations to inform your decisions about usage.

Way #26 – Stupid Questions Are Welcome

“I know this sounds like a stupid question but…” is a frequently used phrase that some teachers resort to since they’re worried about their lack of knowledge or understanding. At the ‘exabytes’ conference, there will be teachers with a wide range of experience and knowledge so you can feel comfortable knowing that any ‘stupid questions’ no matter how simple or trivial will be very much welcome and encouraged without you needing to feel frightened or intimidated.

Way #25 – Discover Memory Retention Techniques

If you and your classes struggle to remember and retain facts, our keynote speaker David Thomas will provide you with some useful strategies. As a Guinness memory record breaker David is uniquely qualified to show conference delegates how to improve their memories. Expect a highly interactive session taking delegates step by step through easy, simple to learn techniques that have an immediate and quantifiable impact.

Way #24 – Support for GCSE Computing

If you have recently introduced GCSE Computer Science or are about to, the exabytes conference will have sessions to support you. There’ll be practical sessions on introducing text-based programming with Python, managing coursework and preparing for exams as well as opportunities to meet other teachers teaching the GCSE.

Way #23 – Plan Inspiring & Engaging School Trips

Gain insights and ideas to support you plan & organise a school trip related to media technology. In association with the National Media Museum in Bradford, there will be workshops to help those who are looking for school trips to inspire and engage young minds. If you select one of these workshops, you’ll be able to focus on either photography, television, animation, video-gaming or the Internet.

Way #22 – Impartial Advice On New Products & Services

At other conferences & events you’ve attended you’ll have encountered sales people employed to sell the company’s product or service to as many customers as possible. At exabytes we won’t see any sales presentations or demonstrations, the only products you’ll see or hear about will be those that the teachers attending are using in their own classrooms. So – if you are considering purchasing a class set of iPads, Chrome Books, Raspberry Pi or Bee-Bots, who better to advise you than those actually using them?

Way #21 – Feel Better Informed About KS1/KS2 Computing

How confident do you and your colleagues feel about teaching KS1-KS2 Computing Curriculum in your school? How are you ensuring that the plans you have in place are being followed? While some schools have purchased ‘off the shelf’ schemes, many others are making use of free Computing resources or have written their own. At exabytes part of our programme is designed specifically to support Computing in KS1 and KS2. Learn from other primary specialists how they approach Computing in their schools.

Way #20 – Make the most of what you’ve already got

Let’s face it – buying and unpacking new kit can be quite exciting. When we discover new pieces of software and hardware, it’s tempting to believe the hype and purchase a class set. However, a year later this pile of kit may be gathering dust in a storeroom because you simply didn’t have enough time or insight to understand how to get the most out of it, like interactive whiteboards for instance. At the exabytes conference you’ll  discover how to derive the best learning outcomes from the technologies that you already have available to you Bee-bots, Raspberry Pi, Scratch, Lego etc.

Way #19 – It’s very much “hands-on”

The very last thing that you need at an education conference is hour after hour of boring talks. That’s why we’re busy now planning up to 30 x hands-on breakout sessions and practical workshops for you to get the most out of exabytes – a one day teaching and learning with technology conference. They will be full of practical advice and strategies you can use in your own classroom.

Way #18 – Gain Insights to Inspire & Engage Your Learners

In the quest to prevent Computing from being a dull and very dry topic in school, it is very tempting to look for inspiration from an exciting new piece of software or the latest hardware gadgets. However, it’s the imaginative and innovative ways that you teach that are more likely to have a lasting impact on the experiences of your learners. At the exabytes conference on 23rd June, our workshop leaders will be modelling their pedagogy and teaching strategies to demonstrate to you, how they inspire & engage their learners. You can book yourself a ticket at http://exa.is/exabytes

Way #17 – Roll Out The Robots

If you’ve been scratching your head, wondering how you might introduce robotics into your school, we’ll be able to help you. You’ll be able to draw on the expertise of our ‘exabytes’ presenters who have introduced robots into their classrooms; Lyn Harrison rallied a group of digital leaders together at her school in East Riding to raise funds to purchase robot kits and CAS Master Teacher Nic Hughes has supported schools in London to introduce robotics. They’ll describe the range of kits that are available for all budgets and the learning potential of robotic projects.

Way #16 – Discover How To Develop Your Digital Leaders

Every school has a group of children so confident in their use of digital technologies, that when given the right opportunities can contribute to the use of technology within the school. At exabytes, workshop leaders with experience of introducing and leading Digital Leader programmes in their schools will share examples of success from their schools. You’ll be able to meet with them and find out how they started, how they recruited their Digital Leaders and the successful impact it had.

Way #15 – Make The Most Of Your Micro:bits

Perhaps your school has received BBC Micro:bits but recently you’ve been too busy to consider how you will distribute them to pupils. The Micro:bit is a fabulous platform to engage and inspire your learners and there are many resources and strategies available for unleashing their potential. At exabytes, we’ll have opportunities for you to learn from others what they are doing with their Micro:bits and how they introduced them to pupils.  

Way #14 – Safer Surfing and Safeguarding Strategies

Some believe that by having an Acceptable Use Policy and effective content filtering in place, their learners’ online safety is fully covered. However, this doesn’t necessarily ensure safer learners, it just limits their behaviour in certain situations. At exabytes you’ll be able to discover a variety of approaches to internet safety from teachers, school leaders and experts who have implemented strategies that engage pupils, staff and parents.

Way #13 – Learn from some 1:1 mobile device educators

If you’re considering introducing 1:1 mobile devices in your school you’ll be able to gain some useful advice from our workshop leaders, some of them have experience of introducing iPads and Android tablets and they’ll be able to tell you how to get the most benefit from the devices and the pitfalls to avoid.

Way #12 – The Best Day For Cover -23rd June!

Is there ever a good day for cover? The biggest obstacle to being released from school to attend a course is cover. It’s difficult to justify more than 2 teachers from a secondary or 1 from a primary school to be absent for a course on the same day. Any more than this necessitates supply cover costs in the region of £200-300 per day. To make it easier for teachers to attend exabytes, I’ve selected 23rd June the first day after the GCSE exams end and the date of the EU Referendum. Schools that are polling stations will probably treat it as an INSET day. Obviously, the longer you leave it to book time out of school – the less your chances will be of being allowed to attend.  http://exa.is/exabytes

Way #11 – Mitigate The Costly Risks Of Innovation

If you’ve ever been involved in the introduction of anything ‘new’ into your school, you’ll know that innovations bring a certain amount of fear and trepidation. I’ve watched aghast while huge amounts of time and money are invested into countless strategies that months later have been abandoned because the ramifications were not considered fully. Attending exabytes actually helps you mitigate the risks of innovation by providing opportunities for you to build connections with colleagues around the country have successfully introduced new strategies in their schools. http://exa.is/exabytes

Way #10 – Cascade strategies back to your colleagues

You’ll be buzzing with so many teaching and learning ideas that you’ll have seen modelled and demonstrated at our exabytes conference. Not only will you want you want to try these with your own classes, but you’ll want to share them with your colleagues back at school as well. Almost all of our workshop presenters will be showing you the different ways that they teach using technology. You can choose which of these sessions to attend yourself.

Way #9 – No Sales Presentations

That’s right – no selling or sales presentations. Imagine how you’d feel if, being only allowed one day out of school in a whole year for any CPD you turned up to realise that the conference is actually a series of sales presentations. I’ve been to those kind of events and know exactly what that feels like. exabytes is a conference about teaching & learning with technology. You have a lot of technology already available to you in your school, we’ll be sharing strategies to get the most out of what you already have as well as showing you how others are using new technologies like 1:1 mobile devices, BBC Micro:bit, Minecraft.

Way #8 – Learn About A Successful 1:1 Tablet School

Jose Picardo, Assistant Principal at Surbiton High School, introduced a 1:1 tablet programme nearly three years ago. “One of the things that people notice when they visit our school is just how ordinary and normal having a tablet is. It’s just there for when its needed. It’s used in many lessons, but not in all lessons. When it’s used, it’s not used throughout the lesson, but rather when appropriate and when it adds value to the learning.” While many would say it was a brave, but necessary risk to take, others argue about the choice of mobile device and the value it adds to learning. Well, you’ll be able to ask Jose himself when he presents a keynote at exabytes.

Way #7 – Meet Some Of Our Primary Specialists

A selection of our presenters are primary specialists, with responsibility for leading Computing and the introduction of education technologies in their schools. This includes Sway Grantham who blogs about her enthusiasm for Raspberry Pi and 1:1 iPads in her classroom, Nic Hughes a Computing Co-ordinator and KS2 teacher with a passion for robotics, wearables and digital making in the classroom, Matt Moore a CAS Master Teacher and Computing Co-ordinator making use of Kodu and Minecraft in his classroom, Emily Fewtrell who has recruited some Digital Leaders from her classes, Thomas Judd who recently introduced 1:1 iPads into his class has been assessing the impact on literacy and Jamie Edmondson who has blogged about teaching how the Internet works to Year 4. Delegates will have opportunities to learn how they are teach with technology and ask them for advice and recommendations.

Way #6 – Explore the Learning Potential of Minecraft

The ability that Minecraft offers to tell stories, model scenarios, environments and relationships between objects and players makes it a tool with huge learning potential in any classroom. Nobody can deny the massive appeal that Minecraft has to hook young learners, but how can you harness this attraction and use it as a learning tool? At exabytes we’ll be offering delegates opportunities to explore the learning potential of Minecraft as well as the various ways that you might implement it as part of your own teaching.

Way #5 – “The Future Of Formal Assessment”

Developments in Technology are constantly changing the appearance of our classrooms. The blackboard that I used in my 1994 classroom, was soon replaced by a dry wipe whiteboard, then a projector, followed by an interactive whiteboard and now a touchscreen. However, the paper-based terminal exams I sat in 1987, seem to have been left behind by technology; the most notable change I see is the posters warning candidates about the use of mobile phones. Tim Burnett, presenting a keynote at exabytes has been working with qualification awarding bodies who are planning to introduce mobile devices into formal examinations. He will describe the challenges and provide an insight into the future of formal assessment as well as the opportunities within teaching and learning for these tools. http://exa.is/exabytes

Way #4 – “More Meaty Than A TeachMeet”

TeachMeets can be great sources of inspiration and ideas for teaching and learning, but a collection of brief presentations does not allow you to interact or engage practically with the ideas being shared. Exabytes is much less talky than a conventional conference, it will include 25 hands-on workshops for you to choose from with ample opportunity to discuss practical ideas and share strategies that really work with others.

Way #3 – Design Your Own Conference Programme

This is quite possibly the first education conference you’ll attend where you can actually shape the conference programme to suit your own professional development needs. When you register to attend at http://exa.is/exabytes, you’ll be presented with a menu of theme choices to select your preferences from and we’ll endeavour to match these in our workshop planning. If a particular theme is missing – you can add it. Read more about more about how it works here: [link]

Way #2 – Expertise & variety of presenters, from A to Z.

Since exabytes is a teaching and learning conference, it’s important for the presenters to have experience of working in education. All our presenters are either teaching in or working with schools. Visit the links here to read a little more about our workshop presenters, from A to Z:  Dan Aldred, Dave Ames, Tim BlezeardGraham Bowman, Jamie Chadwick, Chris Chaffey, Katherine Childs, Steve Dale, Caron Downes, Jamie Edmondson, Dave Gibbs, Sway Grantham, Christine Harvey, Thomas Judd, Theo Keuchel, Matt Moore, Philip Nottingham, Alan O’Donohoe, Jose Picardo, Les Pounder, Paul ScottJason Stanton, Lorraine UnderwoodAndrew Wilkinson and Sarah Zaman.

Way #1 – Cost of attending is low

Since exabytes conference isn’t a profit making venture (it’s all about sharing strategies to reduce teaching workload and boost learning outcomes) tickets are being priced at cost; that’s why it’s just £50 per delegate plus VAT. So apart from the low ticket cost, you only need to budget for travel expenses and cover. If you submit your request to attend exabytes early enough, ie. now, you shouldn’t meet too many other obstacles. Register now at: http://exa.is/exabytes

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