Gewoon Speciaal ~ Simply Special, Utrecht

| April 10, 2013 | 4 Comments 

Whizzing, as fast as we could, from our flight to Amsterdam, we caught the train to Utrecht, and headed to the IPON conference venue, to learn alongside some remarkable students at the Gewoon Speciaal Conference.

First, we had the honour to meet the incredibly special group of students who would be joining us on this exploration of the world of collaborative digits ~ investigating people’s views, and experiences, of all sides of the world of social media, in its many forms, and we have heard about these young folk and how they are experts in social media.

This is the third year of the “Gewoon Speciaal ~ Simply Special” event. A conference that addresses the change in education where students with disabilities are being increasingly “expected” to be involved in mainstream schools. How can this provision be organised in such a way that everybody benefits as much as possible?

There was a large number of workshops, seminars and presentations, all with a focus on inspiration. Inspiration not only for pupils, but also teachers. It is also about the essential role that ICT plays in all of this.

The Gewoon Speciaal conference raises an important question:

“How to make a party out of special education”?

Inspiration. With an exclamation point! That is the key. A child who is motivated, has, and makes, some incredible experiences. This perhaps more important than in regular education. How to make a party of special education? It’s all about excitement in learning!

The focus on enjoyment could in no way detract from a fascinating challenge:

To head in to the crowds of the IPON Conference, and interview delegates about their views, positive and negative, on new, and established, forms of social media.

They had organised themselves in to groups, and sported splendid T-shirts, identifying them as members of the Media Teams.

So, the assignment? :

A fast paced hour, out in the main conference, gathering data, from those in the venue, and then using the next hour to process that raw data in to a form that can be presented to the Gewoon Speciaal audience in The Simply Special Square. WoW! A tough challenge indeed. But the media teams were on form! Stylish results.

What struck us most was that they USED some clever, powerful tech, but showed great command of how to USE it (when it worked ~ and to adapt, improvise, change plan, when it didn’t!) but never let the tech get in the way of the talk. We watched, and learned a lot, from their style of not letting the digits deluge the detail.

An iPad might not have chosen to project through the normal cable….NO problem! A simple, funny, but incredibly effective solution didn’t change the pace of the stride in the slightest ~ Hold the iPad high, stick a microphone up against the speaker, and yell your message! Perfect!

Many children might have felt “put aside” for a long time, put now express that they are finding new tools that give them a developing, fresh, strength, and chance to excel in communities.

While the media teams went out in to the conference hall “on the road”, a lot of bustle from incredible supporting staff, teachers and others, meant that a remarkable amount of technology didn’t fall over. Or, what actually happened was that the students kept the tech running, at the same time as doing some remarkable reporting?!

The Gewoon Speciaal Facebook page might give a small glimpse in to some of the things that were happening today, But, this event really was a classic example of “You had to BE there”! Brilliant!

It is not surprising that “Simply Special” attracts so many visitors. According to Bob Hofman, “The evaluations are positive each year. Finally, an event where the center is the pupils is not the tools. This is something we are very proud of.

He continues: “This conference is ideally suited for knowledge access and sharing. All visitors share the same vision on education, that every child has the right to the education that suits him / her best. So put all that knowledge, that enthusiasm, together and you’re guaranteed an innovative, practical and inspiration plugged day. Ultimately we all want the same thing: the best primary, and secondary systems (and connection between them) so that every child, with or without limitation, receives the optimal schooling and education.”

Dutch used to be a strength. Used to be. What is called “a grasp of language” is very appropriate. That grasp is slipping, and the ability to communicate is fading. Thank you, to EVERY BODY here today, for your patience in doing things in OUR language! Many acted as translators and the students showed remarkable confidence in communicating in ANY language. Well done all.

We can sometimes have a focus on the end target in a challenge for example, that we can forget how important, valuable and worthwhile the process is too. We have our eyes fixed so firmly on the end, the destination, and where we want to go, that we can miss out on the getting there. Today was a joyous celebration of successes along the way. The journey not the destination.And, what a fantastic journey we went on today!

Category: 1) Events and Training days

Comments (4)

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  1. Tom Stoute says:

    Dear Tim,

    Two months ago we got the opportunity to go to the IPON conference for ‘Gewoon Speciaal’ Simply Special. Nothing special for so far, but because my students (with special educational needs) joint the Social Media Circle by ICT&E, some of them could go with me to make it special.
    At the first meeting we heard about your participation, so I warmed up my kids and began to think about our interpretation for the day.
    Four of my enthusiastic pupils came up with the idea to make an Animoto. We worked with it on the Social Media Circle, so that could be a good way to work it out.
    Not only my class, but also from my colleague Erik Lagraauw, four kids could come to the convention. In the Circle, his students worked with video camera and interviewing, so that would be their participation.
    Then we held two girls left of our both classes and thought about their mission. So, this is how the Facebook-page came alive. Those girls were going to promote that page by flyering and walk around with QR-codes.

    Now the day itself, kids got nervous and were exciting. They knew Tim Rylands from the video on Facebook and they were trained for interviewing, photographing and working with the programs the had to use.
    Impressed by the size of the convention and all the free stuff 😉 they received the missions from you, Tim. Enthusiastic they entered the convention with their own mission. It was really so great to see our Special Needs students, walk into the room; shameless, confident and with the intention to make a success of it!
    And they did! After only one hour they returned with all the information they need. The processing could begin!
    In the Glass Classroom they began to work the mission out. My students the Animoto, Erik’s kids the video. Like there was no one around them, they worked out the exercises.
    For kids with less tension and concentration, we also had to watch en do the presentations after a long day. Not in Dutch, as they used to do, but listen to English from Tim. And even after a long day of working, waiting, listening and doing, they did their presentation as it was the most natural thing in the world.

    Yes, these students raised above themselves that day and I am very sure that they would remember this for ever, it was a lifetime experience!

    Yours sincerely,

    Tom Stoute
    VSO Herenwaard, Rotterdam
    The Netherlands

  2. Tim says:

    WoW Tom
    What special feedback – Thank you
    You should be very proud of your students (and they of you) because it really was a VERY special day
    We hope we can keep in touch and find out more about what you all do
    Thanks again for now
    Tim and Sarah

  3. Diana Aben says:

    Dear Tim,
    When I saw your presentation “back to their future” at the BETT-show in London, I got inspired. I thought it would be nice if my students could meet you and work with you. I talked about this idea with Bob Hofman. This was the start of something great what happened on the 10th of april.

    Sometimes a wish seems ment to be. After a few weeks it was certain: Tim Rylands is coming to the IPON “gewoon speciaal” conference in Utrecht.

    My students, pupils with special needs, were invited, just like some students from other special need schools. Our connection was the social media circle from ICT+E where pupils designed their own social media protocol.

    My students were a bit nervous because they are not speaking English and they are not used to big crowd. But your little film on facebook helped them a lot. This teacher looks like a friendly one. We practiced some small English talk and we prepared us to work with the programs lino-it and tagxedo. We wanted to do some interviewing and present the answers in a lino- it.
    Then you, Tim, started the program of the day. And they understood. Your sence of humour helped them to feel confident and inspired and after that they flood out to the crowd. There they revealed themselves like confident students. They walked much more straight and their voices sounded more confident than ever before. They did the whole process by themselves. And they worked it out together. I didn’t have to help much. My task was to observe and to be proud.
    After a long day we drove home. There was a lot of excited talk in the bus.” I did things I thought I wouldn’t dare” said one of them. Another boy told me, it was the day of his life. “After today I understand English,” said the third one. And they were proud that they participated this special day.

    Thank you Tim for this special day and we hope to meet again.
    Diana Aben
    Bernadetteschool, Oss

    A day later my students wrote a short impression about this day in Utrecht.
    My name is Sander,
    I met Tim at Wednesday, April during “Gewoon Speciaal” at Utrecht. It was very cool to meet Tim Rylands, he was very funny, he has been very helpful. We went there to interview people about social media.
    When we were done we had to explain what we had made. and then we got a poster and then we went back home
    Greetings Sander

    We could first walk through the exhibition
    And then we just eat and then we were taught by Tim Rylens
    And we were instructed to ask people what they think about social media and find the Project

    We came there and met with Tim Rylens
    And we a task where we had to interview people and we succeeded, and then it was over and
    We went back to school and then we went home

    We arrived at the Gewoon Speciaal conference. And first we went to walk around.
    And then we got an order from Tim Rylens. We had to ask questions to other people on the floor of the IPON. We asked What their mening is about the use of social media at schools. Is it a good thing or not?

  4. Tim says:

    Thank you SO so much you star lady
    And well done indeed to all of the amazing students who did such remarkable things at the event
    Well done all
    More to follow…
    Tim and Sarah

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