Fits & Fugues

Education can be so much more.

EduCon-nections

Connections and reconnections. That sums up my EduCon experience today.

After @NancyW (Nancy White) and I made our bus connection to SLA, I connected with @bhwilkoff (Ben Wilkoff) and @hdiblasi (Howie DiBlasi) and later with @mwacker (Michael Wacker). During the SLA tour, guided by two SLA students, I found my way into several classrooms and posted a few tweets during the process.

On a tour at SLA, now in @mrchase English class. Lesson about Jackson’s The Lottery. #educon

What!? What kind of heresy is this? Laptops right next to lab equipment and kids entering experiment data?! #educon

Now kids reading their poems from their laptops! Not a piece of paper to be found! Who do these people think they are?! #educon

Overheard: You dont want to be on your cell phone in class. You might miss something… #educon

I know the non-educator friends in Facebook (and maybe even some of educator friends) sometimes get a little annoyed by my constant tweets that update my Facebook page. Some of them comment and leave me special sentiments. Like the kids we teach, they engage at different ranges consistent with their areas of interest and/or if they think they can beat someone else to a humorous reply.

Later I found myself in Zac Chase‘s (@mrchase) regular classroom having a conversation about a range of education topics with @bhwilkoff (Ben Wilkoff), @mwacker (Michael Wacker), @shareski (Dean Shareski), @thecleversheep (Rodd Lucier), @jasonmkern (Jason Kern), and several others. I didn’t say much, which, for those of you who know me will probably find that hard to believe. I was there for my own learning and while I wasn’t verbally participating, I found myself making mental connections to some of my own prior learning and working it into this new knowledge. Not everything bore immediate fruit, but as is common for me, I planted seeds from the conversations of others.

Downstairs in the commons and feeling the pressure to steal a few minutes of work, I turned my laptop on for the first time. I didn’t get much work done; there were too many conversations making too many connections for me. @mwacker (Michael Wacker) and I talked a little shop with @akamrt (Gregory Thompson).

I met SLA teacher @dlaufenberg (Diana Laufenberg) and got to hear about some of the internal workings of SLA over a Mediterranean lunch with several people from during the day. Some of that conversation connected to some of the earlier conversations that connected back to another book I’m currently reading.

Afterword, we again found ourselves (with several others from earlier) in Zac Chase‘s (@mrchase) regular classroom, only this time populated with his students. I listened as kids read their sentences attempting to use some of the vocabulary taped to the wall. Later, I was again content to be an observer, but one of @shareski‘s and one of my tweets sums it up:

@MrChase likes being a teacher.

Got put to work in @mrchase English class with @bhwilkoff @mwacker @shareski and others No passive observers here at SLA. #educon

Mr. Chase drafted us to help kids with some of the struggles they were having in working through an assignment where they were using blogs. I didn’t know much about the assignment, so I found myself asking lots of questions to understand. The students were very gracious in their responses, but through the whole process I saw that one of them was listening to the group’s responses and was working them into the 10 items Mr. Chase asked them to work on. There, I made another re-connection: questions are important. It’s soooo easy to fall back on our “Curse of Knowledge” as Dean Shareski made reference to earlier (which also triggered a connection to a book I recently read, Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath who also made reference throughout to the Curse of Knowledge).

@bhwilkoff (Ben Wilkoff), @mwacker (Michael Wacker), and I made an unremarkable trip and back to a tweetup before attending the Friday Night Panel Discussion. Now that made lots of connections for lots of people. The Twitter hashtag #educon made it as one of the trending topics in Philadelphia. Managing the conversations on stage and via Twitter proved to be hyper-engaging for me, not really a pacifier as one panelist alluded to regarding technology. I may have gotten a little snarky once or twice.

I followed the crowd out and ended up riding a conversational wave that included connections from @thecleversheep (Rodd Lucier), @shareski (Dean Shareski), @jonbecker, (Jonathan Becker, whom I long tweeted with and finally met in person), @courosa (Alec Couros who, by the way, went around the group of 13 people, introduced by both in-world and twitter names, only missing one who was new to him. That was amazing and shows the power of connections on people.), @bhwilkoff (Ben Wilkoff), @lizbdavis (Liz Davis), @aforgrave (Andrew Forgrave), @msjweir (Jamie Reaburn Weir), @zbpipe (Zoe Branigan-Pipe), and @crafty184 (Chris Craft). My memory isn’t as good as @courosa (Alec Couros) because I’ve left two people out. I apologize.

After the good conversations from the day, I knew I wasn’t going to be going to sleep anytime soon. That stinks because the conversations of the day start early tomorrow (er, later this morning).

Oh yeah, I decided to change my Twitter picture so I can help with putting a name to a face when meeting in-world. Thanks for the suggestion.

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January 30, 2010 Posted by | Education, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Advancing Online Learning Conference

The people at Virtual High School, Liz Pape and all, have done a great job with the Advancing Online Learning Conference including some engaging speakers and breakout sessions. Dr. Mark Milliron delivered our keynote Wednesday morning, giving his take on current learners, the future of education and its relationship to the world. At lunch Dr. Jesse Harriott, VP of Research for Monster Worldwide spoke about preparing students for competition in a global workforce. Allison Powell from NACOLand Steven Ruscito from Middletown High School in Rhode Island took part in a panel and broadly discussed among the topics above the October 2007 Blackboard report Learning in the 21st Century: A National Report on Online Learning. Sessions I attended over the two days included Online Instructional Programs & Models; New Approaches to Online Science; Non-traditional or At Risk Students in Online Learning; Current Research in Online Learning; and using Virtual Classroom Tools. 

Today’s (Thursday, 4/11) keynote featured Robert Currie from Michigan Virtual High School who discussed, among other things, Michigan’s online learning graduation requirement and the CareerForward initiative created in conjunction with Microsoft’s Partners in Learning “to help Michigan students understand how to plan their work lives and career opportunities amid the implications of the global economy.” Specifically, students ask and attempt to answer the following “challenge” questions: What am I going to do with my life? What is the world of work like? What will I need to succeed? What’s next for me? 

Those are compelling questions for sure and Mr. Currie gave his presentation in the context of 21st Century Learning Skills. However, are those questions really anything new? Do we see them afresh in the spotlight of the future? Ask Gary Stager about his take on 21st Century Learning and he’ll probably tell you something like those are nothing new. Ask Will Richardson, Dave Warlick, or Wes Fryerand they’ll paint a slightly different picture. Regardless of where you (or they) land, the spectrum seems to support a deliberate and reflective approach to purposeful, relevant, engaging, and meaningful education. Additionally, if you haven’t read Alan November, Scott McLeod, Mike Parent, Karl Fisch, George Siemens, Clay Burell, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Jon Becker, and others to get a flavor of the varying perspectives, you must and soon. Feel free to contribute “must reads” of your own in a comment.

April 11, 2008 Posted by | Education | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment