Attending the first EMEA SEE Summit… day one done
By Tapani Raitanen
SMART Exemplary Educator, Finland
The SMART Exemplary Educator (SEE) Summit representing EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) program started about a year ago. Before that, some Europeans, including me, had been members of the North American SMART Exemplary Educator (SEE) program. Last year, a few European SEEs attended the SEE Summit in Calgary, Canada and today they are mentoring me and other first-timers in the first ever EMEA SEE Summit in Hamburg, Germany. I came to Hamburg with great expectations. I’ve wanted to meet the international SEEs ever since I joined the program in 2010. And being the only SEE in Finland means that I have to get along with English the whole week!
As the first day of the EMEA SEE Summit started it was easy to forget that we had 20 nationalities represented in one room (18 countries throughout EMEA plus the USA and Canada). Why easy? Because we all share the same passion: to be exemplary users of SMART products and to improve student learning, and the summiteers were chatting at group tables like they had known each other for a long time.
After the welcoming words by Ainhoa Marcos, SMART’s Education Programs Manager for EMEA, we had an icebreaker activity (of course in SMART Notebook collaborative learning software, and also using one of the new widgets in Notebook 11). We were divided to pairs and had a few minutes to get to know each other and then introduce ourselves to rest of the summiteers. I was talking with Joey Savoy, a SMART Ambassador from District 16 in Miramichi, Canada. Miramichi is the first SMART Showcase Community in the world. Now that´s a place to visit!
Emmanuel Gueritte, SMART’s Manager, Product Marketing EMEA, told us about SMART strategies and visions of the future classroom. That was the first time all the summiteers were quite at the same time! I will not go to details here, but the main point is that the core of SMART ecosystem is Notebook software, not the SMART Board interactive whiteboard. And a big question to take back home for all of us is: are we investing in technology or education? Personally, I liked what I heard and I hope I can participate in that kind of future using SMART products.
I’m very happy to know that my hometown, Nokia, in Findland, has received government funding for buying tablets for students and the idea is to experiment using them together with SMART Boards.
The afternoon started with a SEE Show and Share. Each day, 10 summiteers will share their lessons or activities with the rest of the group. We implement an engaging method where we use five SMART Boards and two SEEs, and take turns in sharing their tips, lessons and knowledge with small groups that rotate every 10 minutes. I shared my version of “Response semi-anonymous mode”. After the great feedback, I’m encouraged to upload the activity to the SMART Exchange website, so that I can also share it with you. You will be able to find it on the Exchange in the next few days when you search for Response semi-anonymous mode. Unfortunately I was so busy “minding my own business” that I didn´t have time to watch others sharing. But I saw the enthusiasm on people´s faces and the applause around the room was so loud that I´m sure everybody´s going to get some new ideas from these sessions.
Christian Coles, SMART Ecosystem specialist, discussed an interesting topic: Widgets and Templates. He went through the widgets that are already available on SMART Exchange, but the Oohs and Aahs really started when he showed us widgets that are going to be available in the near future. He also asked us what kinds of widgets we thought would be useful for teaching. We worked in small groups and in 15 minutes we came up with about 20 new widget ideas!
After seven hours indoors, it was time to do something else. Sergio Garcia and Irina Wissman had prepared a Scavenger Hunt for us using Wikitude. Again, we were divided to small groups and we started hunting photos in Hamburg. It was a lot of fun. Because the SEEs are curious for information and experiences, my group decided to check out Elbe Tunnel, which wasn’t part of the Scavenger Hunt at all!
It was appropriate to end the first day of EMEA SEE Summit with yet another experience: a dinner in a Chinese restaurant with chefs cooking right there in front of you. The food was excellent and it is easy to say that the summiteers were very pleased with the first day of the EMEA SEE Summit. After dinner, I walked to the hotel to write this blog post and I have to say, that I´m greatly honored being asked to do this and I´m proud to be a member of the SMART Exemplary Educator Community.
You can follow #EMEASEE2012 on Twitter throughout the entire EMEA SEE Summit, through July 6, 2012.
About the author
Tapani Raitanen has been teaching for 19 years and is currently at the Tottijarvi school in the Finnish town of Nokia, where the well-known mobile phone manufacturer was born. Raitanen has been a SMART Exemplary Educator since 2010 and is also a SMART Certified Interactive Teacher. He presents at trade shows and regularly trains other teachers in his region on effectively using SMART products to improve student engagement. You can learn more about Tapani Raitanen as he tells his SMART story in this three-minute YouTube video.