Why I’m more excited about #pblworld than #ISTE13

Tomorrow is a big day for me. It’s the first day of my first ever PBL World – I’m going to attend some great sessions and meet some wonderful people. But it’s also the day that I’m presenting with my edu mentor, Suzie Boss. OK, she might not be my mentor technically, since she hasn’t a clue that I see her that way. She’s more like a role-model. She’s someone that I aspire to be like. I’m not going to explain why; just read her books, blogs and tweets and you can find out for yourself.

Next Monday will be the first day of #ISTE13 – another massive deal for me as a teacher who is keen on innovative and creative teaching methods, especially those involving the use of current and emerging technologies. So why am I more looking forward to PBL World over ISTE? After all, ISTE features hundreds of presenters from all around the world as well as very respected key note speakers. It’s also attended by 13,000+ educators. Well, I am excited for ISTE, but the nature of PBL World suits me better. It is a much more intimate conference that is structured (obviously) around a single teaching approach – project-based learning. However, I believe that PBL is so much more than one style, one way, one approach. It is so wonderfully flexible and dynamic that I often see the BIE 8 essentials as being like a blank jigsaw waiting for an excited teacher and/or students to scribble cool stuff all over it.

PBL World limits the number of attendees to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to speak with ‘experts’ or experiences PBLers, to ask questions and get answers, to share stories and worries. It means that the sessions will be more catered to your needs. I like that I can spend a few sessions focusing on time management and team dynamics in projects and then spend the next couple of sessions being inspired by creative and critical thinking strategies that have been tried and tested by actual teachers.

I also like that PBL World is not about egos. It’s not about individuals. It’s about teachers and students. Mostly it’s about students – the people who profit the most from we educators spending a week of our holidays hanging out with other teachers and being all PBL nerdy. I like that there really aren’t any PBL ‘big shots’ who we are all required to listen to in revered silence. There isn’t a guru who is untouchable in his/her PBL genius – you know, the type who has 50k+ followers on Twitter and only follows 20, and who never replies to your tweets. Over the last 3 years, I’ve found the PBL people to be some of the most genuine, caring and generous of the edu peeps I’ve connected with. No lie.

The main reason I’m more excited about PBL World, though? I know that my students will benefit from me being there. I won’t be sitting in a session and thinking, ‘Yeah, a gadget/web tool … so what?’ I’ll be in sessions that connect with me and my practice as a PBL teacher. I’ll be lapping up the ideas, the tools, the strategies shared by other practising teachers. We all have our own passions and our own preferences for how we teach – PBL is mine. I understand that lots of teachers are very, very excited about tech tools and gadgets and ISTE is their mecca. But me? I’m going to be in nerdy PBL teacher heaven this week … and I can’t wait! (I just hope I’m not disappointed, haha!)

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