On March 16-17, 2012, 13 students from my Semester 2 Grade 10 Technology Skills for the 21st Century Learner class attended the first ever StuCon 2012 technology conference at Hong Kong International School. This was a conference where all participating students helped design, organize, plan, and run the various workshops. In essence, it was a technology-based conference by students for students.
Nine international schools from East and Southeast Asia attended the conference, including schools from Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and Indonesia.
This event, organized as a non-stop 24-hour conference, was the first of its kind. Other student-centered technology conferences exist like Flat Classroom, which my school attended last year, but none have done the 24-hour model. The organizers qualified this non-stop 24-hour approach by saying, “…[The decision] was driven by awareness that productivity is often driven by pushing mental states out of their comfort zone…” They also stated that the 24-hour approach was one of the main themes of the event. The students weren’t expected to stay awake the whole time, however. The organizers created power nap times in the schedule and any student could grab a nap in a dedicated room whenever they felt the need.
The SIS Technology Skills students started preparing for the event as soon as they started the class after Chinese New Year in February. They divided themselves into three teams where they collaborated to design and deliver a four-hour workshop each that revolved around a technology skill, process, and/or idea. The students chose their workshop topic based off of pre-existing technology skills and interests or something on which they wanted to improve technology skill-wise.
One group, consisting of Andy K., Vaneson L, Lecy C., Luke W. and, Coco X., built their workshop around video making and editing. They titled their workshop “Movie Rookies.” Participants in their workshop recreated a scene from a movie, learning about the cinematographic and editing elements in the process. You can view the commercial they created for their workshop here.
Another group, comprised of Joe R., Jason K., Jung Woo P., and Chris T., designed their workshop around photo editing on computer and mobile devices. Their workshop was called “Digital Plastic Surgery.” They helped students improve photo-editing skills while promoting the idea of a consistent and professional looking presence of one’s self across social media applications.
The final group, an all-girl cohort consisting of Helena K., Jamison F., Saige T-H, and Madyson H., created a workshop about making original music using an online music creation and editing tool. Based off of the name of the online tool (ROC by Aviary), they called their workshop “Be a ROCkstar.” Promoting the idea of creating original music for class projects instead of using a copyrighted song from a known artist (which is illegal in most instances), these girls showed their participants how to put together an original song depending on the mood of their video.
Along with facilitating their own workshops, the students attended other technology-based workshops developed by the other participating students. They also had opportunities to interact with “gurus” that were brought in by the organizers. Two gurus came from Warner Brothers Studio in Hollywood and CNN Hong Kong, respectively, while another two were a professional video game developer and a theme park engineer. The greatest amount of excitement came from those students who went on the CNN studio tour with the guru from CNN. Two of the students tweeted to their followers on Twitter upon their return that the CNN tour “was amazing!”
Overall, the students enjoyed their StuCon experience despite the inevitable exhaustion that came with such little sleep over the 24-hour time period. The students will have the opportunity to hone their new skills in future class projects. Hopefully StuCon will continue for many years to come and hopefully SIS will continue to participate in this wonderful student-centered technology event. Student reflections about the conference can be read here.