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Tag: educon (Page 2 of 6)

Photos From EduCon

Another EduCon has flashed by and I’ll have more to say about this weekend a little later. For now, here are a few images I caught from this year’s conference.

The Friday opening panel offered their insights on the topic of curiosity. Moderated by Zac Chase and featuring Stephanie Sandifer, Antero Garcia, RaFranz Davis, and Milton Chen.

Chris Lehmann, SLA founding principal and our host for EduCon.

One of the EduCon discussions, this one wrestling with how to help students find the truth in current events.

Always looking for a new angle to picture the weekend.

Zac Chase, always passionate about whatever he’s presenting.

Cannoli shells waiting for the filling. I was hungry.

Picture Post #17

A random assortment of my photographs from the past couple of weeks. More, of course, in Flickr.


Umbrellas used to decorate the ceiling of the walkway to a parking garage in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. Nice idea.



I don’t do still life work very often, but I should since it helps me to better learn my camera. I like this particular shot from a session with Kathy in her studio.



From EduCon last January, Chris Lehmann, founder of both the conference and Science Leadership Academy and all-round nice person, in one of his more relaxed moments that weekend.



Some birds taking a rest on Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River between DC and Virginia. Considering how long we’ve live here, I can’t believe it was my first time visiting the island.



Just a random shot from a local crafts store. My wife is into this little corner of maker so I find myself in these places a lot.

EduCon 2017

Last weekend was one of my favorite times of the year.

I spent a couple of days in a nondescript office building in center city Philadelphia masquerading as a school. This was a small but powerful conference knowns as EduCon, held each year in the depth of the mid-Atlantic winter at the Science Leadership Academy.

When I tell people about my trip, one of their first questions is why? Why do you continue to go to conferences like this? Aren’t you supposed to be retired?

The simple answer is, I’m still an educator and this event is a large part of my learning community.


This was the tenth edition of this conference, which is very different from most. Here it’s all about conversations around the idea of changing education, attracting some of the smartest most creative people I know. I’ve been there from the beginning, leading or co-leading discussions in about half of them, and I always leave with a long list of books to read, ideas to investigate, and new people to follow.

The theme this year was sustainability and, considering all the local and national crap going on around us, I was half expecting the mood to be rather pessimistic. There certainly was an undercurrent of apprehension (how could there not be?) but, overall most everyone was positive and determined to help fix the broken.

Robot Controllers

One great part of EduCon is that the faculty of SLA, many of the students, and even some parents are active participants in the discussions. Many of the sessions are also lead by staff and students, talking about their work and the inquiry driven process at the school. It’s even more remarkable when you remember that this is a public school, working with the same limited budget as other high schools, with a representative cross section of the city’s population.

I have a couple of posts in the works based on some discussions from the conference, but to close this one I’ll just recommend that you plan now to be in Philly next January 26-28. Dress warm, wear your walking shoes, and I’ll see you there.

Sunday Panel

Find more images from this year’s conference in the EduCon 2.9 Group on Flickr.

Speaking of Education

Last weekend at the EduCon conference, I found myself in several wonderful conversations about language. The words that are used, and often misused, when discussing education, schools, students, and learning. And especially in the debate over education reform.

Words like the ones in the picture above (click to enlarge) that Meredith asked us to reflect on and decide if there was a consensus of meaning. It wasn’t an easy task. Most of these terms, like “accountability” and “STEM” (or any of the variations), are often reinterpreted by different groups depending on the goals being advocated.

Many of the same words reappeared the next day during a session in which Diana challenged us to brainstorm our own collection of “silver bullets, panaceas and elixirs”. Part of the collection from our table can be seen above. Some overlap, but much of the same vocabulary.

One thing I think both groups agreed on is that most of the words were not inherently bad (in Diana’s session we had a small pile of words that the table felt should be rejected). Almost all the ideas represented on both the Post-It notes and the word wall began their life in the education discussion with good intentions. The problem is always in the implementation.

For me a good example of that misapplication is the concept of the “flipped” classroom, which came up in both groups. The idea was to shift some of the basic fact gathering responsibility to students so that more classtime could be spent in adding context to those fact. Too many teachers, however, simply recorded the same lectures they always gave for kids to watch for homework, and then have them do the same assignments they used to give for homework during class. Flipped, but not to the benefit of the students.

Then, part of both conversations, was my particular pet annoyance phrase: “personalized” learning. I won’t waste space here repeating myself (you can read my past rants on the topic if you like) but this is one concept that sounds good until you see how it gets applied, especially in edtech products which are more about programming than personalizing.

Anyway, these great discussions were just part of the three days. You can watch the panels from Friday (jump to 17 minutes) and Sunday (jump to 1 hour 10 minutes), where the topic for both was another frequently used ed reform term: “empowerment”. And if you would like to be part of discussions like this, plan to join us for EduCon next year, January 27-29.

The Social Librarian

Last week our overly-large school district finally released our “Guidelines On the Use of Social Media and Related Electronic Communication Tools”. Fifteen pages of text that only a lawyer could love and which took around three years to finish. Although I was one of many who participated in the process, it’s very hard to spot my contributions.

Anyway, as I was preparing to leave for Educon last Friday, one of our library specialists asked if I would do a session on the guidelines at their mini-conference, one week away. I agreed1, but wrote the description with the idea of spending most of the time I had discussing how and why they should use social media, rather than relating a list of do’s and don’ts.

And the conversations at Educon gave me just the hook I need.

The theme for the Friday night and Sunday morning panels addressed the question of whether schools and educators should be open and transparent about our work (which frankly, was answered with a big yes from everyone I spoke to) and to what degree. As their roles in society rapidly change, librarians certainly need to find new and creative ways to open their spaces and connect them to their communities.

Of course, I will only have 45 minutes to make the case for the professional use of social media but in that time, at least we can get the conversation started.

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