We were promised 'Winds of Change' at the SLANZA 2013 conference in Wellington. What we hadn't bargained for was 'high winds close airport on Sunday"! Some of us were at airports around the country on Sunday rescheduling our flights and taking refuge with local 'flockmates' to ride out the storm.
Fortunately the storm did not dampen the spirits of those who arrived in time for the "meet and greet" at the conference venue. The conversation, food and wine flowed freely into the evening as members caught up with old friends and made new ones before setting off to enjoy the well known eateries of Wellington.
Monday morning started with Professor Tara Brabazon "Learning to Leisure? Why Google is not a library and Facebook is not a classroom" enlightening delegates with her thoughts on digital medium’s place in education and the blurred line between generational understanding and use.
Workshops followed each keynote throughout the conference with delegates following their own interests and passions to a variety of high quality opportunities for insight and engagement.
Professor Erica McWilliams’ keynote followed lunch on Monday "Library Pedagogy in the Era of Big Data'. Although delegates had just enjoyed the high standard of fabulous food which the caterers consistently provided throughout the conference, nobody suffered from 'after lunch fade out’ due to Erica’s fascinating and engaging advice on assisting our users with information management in learning.
Monday evening after cocktails and Awards (see website page for full list) many delegates chose to join flockmates of similar school types ie; boys schools, primary schools etc. This initiative was suggested on Listserv and captured the attention of many participants who enjoyed sharing with those in similar situations.
Tuesday started with a keynote from Dr Cathy Wylie, a Chief Researcher at the NZ Council for Educational Research, ‘How reading matters in Children’s development’. She drew together findings from her own research and other comparative projects to give the audience a broad yet clear understanding of how literacy, home life and school experience effect children’s ability to learn and be productive.
Keynote Andrew Fiu, author of Purple Heart a story of his teenage years spent in hospital, spoke of his own learning journey and how his elderly hospital mates inspired him to open his mind to education by sharing their newspapers and life experience with him.
On the social side, the author breakfasts at the Iconic Backbenchers bar were well attended. Tuesday evening gave us an opportunity for a private viewing of the Andy Warhol exhibit followed by dinner and dancing in the stunning Te Marae on the top floor of Te Papa Museum.
Wednesday started with Dr Susan Sandretto’s “(Re)considering information literacy through a critical literacy lens’ as the final keynote of the conference. She shared an overview of the rapidly evolving multi-literacy landscape and where information literacy practices might go next. Her practical handouts gave participants a starting point for their own info lit approach.
The author panel with Kim Hill, Bernard Beckett, Glenn Colquhoun and Kate de Goldi was a highlight for many and a great way to finish the conference. Their open discussion was interesting and enlightening. Delegates were invited to join in the conversation, this lead to some humorous moments with good advice and ideas from all involved.
All our thanks go to the conference committee and their dedication to providing a positive learning experience for all who took their offer to examine ‘The Winds of Change’ in our industry and our lives.
Lisa Salter - SLANZA Communications Leader