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Tag: conversation

EduCon Conversation

Tomorrow I’ll be heading to Philadelphia for EduCon 2.4 (can it possibly be the fifth?), the best professional development event I attend each year. It’s a small conference but a fully-packed weekend of great conversations and a chance to connect with many members of my PLN, hosted at a truly innovative school.

This year I’ll be part of a panel session with Tim, Tom, Jeff, and Martha* called Building Bridges: Communities of Practice from K-16, in which we’ll be discussing how to improve communication and collaboration between those of us working in K12 schools and our higher education colleagues.

If you’re attending EduCon, please join us Saturday afternoon at 3. If you can’t be in Philly, watch for many ways to participate in both our session and the conference in general, starting by following the #educon hashtag on Twitter. You can also directly be a part of our session by adding your ideas, stories, and comments to our Google Docs page.

And on the topic of conversation starters, Lawrence Summers, former President of Harvard, opened an opinion piece in the New York Times with this interesting observation.

A PARADOX of American higher education is this: The expectations of leading universities do much to define what secondary schools teach, and much to establish a template for what it means to be an educated man or woman. College campuses are seen as the source for the newest thinking and for the generation of new ideas, as society’s cutting edge.

So, is that influence on the high school curriculum a good thing? Are colleges really the source for “newest thinking” or do high schools have some something to contribute? Do public schools exist only to be a farm club for universities?

Anyway, it’s going to be a good discussion and great weekend. Hope you can be part of it.

*Tim, Tim, Tom, Jeff, and Martha: the least feared law firm in the state of Virginia. :-)

Join The Conversation

Next weekend I’ll be heading up to EduCon 2.2, the most unique conference I’ve ever attended.

For one thing, it’s relatively small, although with 500 people registered this year, it will be a little more crowed than the first one in 2008 where 75 or so of us showed up, not knowing what to expect.

But the big difference with EduCon is that the sessions, for the most part, are not lecture/demo presentations or hands-on workshops. And it is not a conference about technology.


The concept of EduCon-founder, and principal of the Science Leadership Academy, Chris Lehman was to get a bunch of interested and interesting educators together to have conversations about how we can change schools to better fit the way our students learn and the real world in which they live, as well as to grow networks of people who would continue those discussions long after the conference ended.

I’ll be leading one of those discussions and, while my topic does address technology, it’s concerned with why schools have remained isolated islands of status quo over the past twenty years, while the rest of the world has been fundamentally altered by computers, networks, and communications tools.

My session is titled “Why Has Technology Failed to Bring Substantial Change to American Schools (and what can we do about it)?” and this is the short description, the in-50-words-or-less explanation of the session in a way that will attract an audience.

The authors of Disrupting Class ask “Why haven’t computers brought about a transformation in schools the way they have in other areas of life?”. Excellent question. Join us for a discussion of what we can do to change that situation. Bring any and all ideas to share.

The proposal for this session grew from my growing frustration with American education and the two-faced embrace of techie tools while at the same time rejecting the transformative possibilities they offer.

Schools in the US have spent billions of dollars in just the past decade to buy laptops and software, install networks, connect classrooms to internet, and train teachers.

However, walk down the halls of your average American school, especially high schools, and you’re likely to see a teacher-directed, lecture-demo formatted lesson, with little or no technology use by either teacher or students.

Over the past few years, the most visible example of technology use in the classrooms of our overly-large school district has been interactive whiteboards, devices which chain teaching to standards of the previous century.

Talk all you want about “student engagement” and “interactivity”, these boards are little more than expensive electronic extensions of blackboards and chalk, controlled by the teacher, and locking the learning focus on them, not the students.

Anyway, IWBs are a topic for another rant and only a small piece of the discussion that I’d like to have in Philly.

If you’re coming to EduCon, please join us at 12:30 Sunday afternoon for what I hope will be a wonderful exchange of ideas on this topic.

And don’t think you must agree with the premise to participate. Feel free to let me know that I’m full of crap and that I’ve missed the mark entirely. Bring evidence of my cluelessness, however. :-)

If you’re not able to be at the conference in person, you can still attend and join the discussion online through the generous efforts of Elluminate who will be providing an interactive room for each session.

Links to the Elluminate rooms will be available from the conversations page on the EduCon site.

Now, if they can just keep the snowy weather out of town for the weekend, we’ll be golden.

Something To Talk About

It’s all about the conversation, right?

Going with that philosophy, the folks at the Pingdom blog analyzed the trends for the use of 45 web-related terms in the world-wide discussion (as tracked by Google, of course) over the past couple of years.

They found that “Web 2.0” peaked in 2007 and has been decreasing in 2008″ (web 3.0 is down as well).

“Blogging”, the act, was unchanged during 2008 but “Blogger”, the person has been increasing steadily for four straight years.

The use of “microblogging” beat them both and is way up (thanks, Twitter).

“Social network” has been rising since 2006 while “Social networking” showed only a slight increase in 2008

So, what does any of this mean?

Who knows? But someone has to maintain the flow of web-related trivia. :-)

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