Carmen Sandiego would be proud as I hid out in Singapore for a week with Microsoft!
It has taken me over a month to fully process what E2 Singapore was like personally and professionally. Microsoft's Education programming is both generous and modern in their approach to offer professional growth opportunities for educators of the world. Canada's Education Team builds on top of that making sure their educators have the experience of a lifetime. To both the Worldwide and Canada Microsoft Education Teams I say a genuine thank you for this opportunity.
Arriving in Singapore it was obvious that this city could challenge Dublin for the right to own the colour green! Green was everywhere and like Ireland it felt completely natural and comforting. I arrived at the hotel just in time for the welcome reception which took place next to the river and featured music, amazing food and educators from countless countries complimenting each others' efforts in education and sharing jet lag stories. The night ended early for most due to the effects of travel but because of that most, like myself, were awake way before dawn. I capture some great shots of the city both before bed on the first night and at 4am when I woke up!
Once everyone was awake it was showtime and Microsoft didn't disappoint with some of the most real and passionate keynote speakers I've seen. They weren't selling books, producing videos or even looking for Twitter followers. These speakers were there with heartfelt thanks, valuable information and inspiring stories that the global audience could appreciate. I immediately found online friends and made the relationships much more concrete. We were given our challenge groups and Computational Thinking competitions (Easier than figuring out the hotel bathroom light system) and I couldn't be happier! I got to work with an American, Russian, Uzbekistan teacher and New Zealand team leader. But the countries were the least important part. Each of these teachers were world-class when it came to intelligence, creativity and technological abilities. I didn't feel like the smartest or most capable person in the room at any point at this conference! Team 5 was alive and we began to work with smiles! Minecraft Education was offering a session and although I was sure I would know the content delivered I wanted to see how to deliver the content in a fun and engaging way and one of the best MCEE presenters in the world was a great example for me to see. At night Team Canada organized a wonderful walking tour of Singapore!
Day 2 - Starting to feel like home!
Day 2 started with more wonderful demonstrations of Microsoft Educational Technology which included Minecraft Education Edition, and powerful keynotes from teachers. When Meenoo battled through tech difficulties and made a pig fly due to chemistry I'm sure Minecraft sold thousands of more account licenses at that moment. It was awesome! I hit some Microbit training with Minecraft Mentors, worked even harder in our challenge team (Still Smiling) and we took a river cruise that I recorded in full and can't watch enough. Thanks to Mario of Team Canada I look back now and love the fact that E2 was the correct balance of tourism and learning for me. We even scored a sweet backstage tour of the ballroom where we got to geek-out over the technology involved in putting on a show like E2!
Learning Marketplace - Building a Better Future in MinecraftEDU with Sustainability Shuffle!
After a failed elevator pitch with Anthony Salcito (Acutally passing each other in an elevator doorway) I was determined to be ready at the marketplace. Using Twitter to request a redo I was pleased to see Anthony respond and confirm he would stop by.
Anthony didn't disappoint and even though he was extremely rushed he gave me the time I needed to communicate Minecraft Education's largest international project ever and its purpose to teach the United' Nations' Sustainable Development Goals around the world! The Sustainability Shuffle had its early day in the sun and the eventual hope is that the students' solutions can be seen by the United Nations!
Celebration Time - More than just a badge!
In a celebration setting I've only seen in movies, Microsoft ended E2 putting it on ICE! Met by a giant ice carving of #E2 as we entered the venue we found a food spread and beverage offering that made everyone think "I could get use to this lifestyle." The royal treatment continued throughout the evening as we danced next to Singapore Bay in a giant air-conditioned greenhouse like no other. They love their gardens in Singapore and we were smack dab in the middle of their crown jewel of gardens. Awards were given out for the challenges and I got to see some Team Canada members win gold and grace the stage with the flags and leadership team. Mario and I snuck away at the exact moment to catch, accidentally, the garden light show which was high on my to-do list! This was indeed the end of the educational event but I believe only the beginning of many relationships for myself. There is something comforting about face-to-face interaction and Microsoft enabled those opportunities perfectly. I had to travel to the opposite end of the Earth to meet these exceptional educators and people, and for me, the people made the event something I will cherish forever. Thank you to everyone I got to meet and spend time with and I am sorry to those who I didn't spend enough time with. Perhaps we can have another chance at "E3?" Is that how the number system works? :)
This event was more than just a badge for me. Returning home I have big plans and I hope that if I get to attend E2 again at some point I will take better advantage of my time there to meet many more wonderful people!
I'm an experienced Global Minecraft Mentor, Published Educational Researcher, Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow, Apple Distinguished Educator, TeachSDGs Ambassador and grade 6-12 technology teacher. @BBTNB