Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Educon

"Science Leadership Academy" by dmcordell
I just got home from that innovative, energizing, inspiring gathering known as Educon.

Since I'm retired from my position as a K-12 Teacher Librarian (although I still do occasional curriculum writing for CyberSmart! Education Company), and I pay my own way, I can pretty much tailor the experience to suit my personal interests. I feel free to either attend sessions or sit out a time slot and chat with people, usually a blend of both.

A Selection of Sessions
In @remixeducon, I got to interact with George Mayo and Harry Costner, who had already contacted me by email to ask permission to add some of my photos to a resource they were creating. Their remixeducon folder contains CC licensed pictures and video clips made by Educon participants, available for public use. An unexpected bonus was meeting Amanda Lyons, who showed us examples of her visual note taking and suggested creating the Community Mural that was later hung on the second floor.

"Community Mural" by dmcordell

I've become increasingly interested in the concept of "curation,"  and who better to explore it with than Joyce Valenza? She quoted from from Pierre Levy, who envisions knowledge communities where "the members of a thinking community search, inscribe, connect, consult, explore..." In an increasingly complex information age, the ability to archive, organize and retrieve digital assets is vital.  Joyce's slide presentation, and an extensive list of resources addressing this topic, can be found on her curation wiki.

During John Schinker's Mind the Gap session, a diverse group of educators tackled some difficult questions: (1) What can I do to effect change in my school? (2) How can I support and encourage change among the other roles? (3) How can I create a sense of urgency for change in my environment? There were, of course, no definitive solutions. There was, however, an interesting range of responses. This is the sort of interaction that I miss when working on my own, and it served to remind me that there is not a consensus regarding school reform even among forward thinkers in the education field.

Close Encounters of the Best Kind
It's no surprise to those who know me that my favorite part of any conference is interacting with people. I was happy to reunite with some old friends and make some new and promising connections. I chatted with SLA parents and student guides, trying to grasp what makes this school special in their eyes (cropping up again and again were phrases like "authentic student voice," "caring community," "project-based learning"). Conversations frequently took unexpected turns, and off-hand comments sparked interesting discussions. For example, when I flippantly remarked that students should be more like retirees, my tablemates' questions led me to articulate what makes retirement so wonderful...freedom to pursue passions, learning what & when I want to, choosing work hours that suit my personal body clock...that might also make school a better experience for students. I've already added a number of new people to my Network, so that my Educon experience won't end with the last scheduled session.

"Faces of Educon" by dmcordell

Sometimes learning means taking chances. Because I decided to bring my iPad rather than my Mac, I had fewer options when it came to uploading and editing photos. Apart from some cropping, all of the pictures in my Educon Flickr set (except for the newly created "Faces of Educon" collage) are "raw." This was a bit scary for me, but surprisingly liberating. I used my Nikon D3000, my iPhone, even my iPad to capture images. Sometimes less is more.

I got to travel, take photos, engage in conversations, learn, eat, drink, and be merry. It might not have been your Educon, but it was my Educon, and I loved it.

"Snowy Morning in Philadelphia" by dmcordell

Friday, January 11, 2013

Three To Try

Photo by Ellen White

The following trio of tools proved useful to me this week. Take a look and see if there's anything you might like to test drive.

 #1 Many of the digital resources I use are harvested from interactions on social networking sites. A new service, RebelMouse, aggregates personal updates, making it easy to share Facebook and Twitter content with people who don't choose to connect there.

The RebelMouse page is visually appealing, presenting content in an easily accessible format. In addition to automatically aggregating from multiple streams, RebelMouse allows the user to post supplemental content, highlight "important" items, "stick" links (a la Pinterest pinning), and perform a host of other actions. In the opinion of Technorati blogger, Jim Haughwout, "The value is clear: If I wanted someone to rapidly and easily get a perspective on what interests me, I would recommend they first go to the my Rebel Mouse page (rather than my other of my social media pages)."

#2 Once having realized the merit of RebelMouse, I wanted to add it to contact information on my business cards. In order to do this, I turned to a familiar but still very useful tool,  the QR Code Generator. There are a number of similar sites, but I've used this one before and find it to be quick and intuitive: paste in a URL, generate a code, then download the image and grab permalink information. Sites like Zazzle accommodate custom business card designs, so it's easy to add the QR code to other text and images.

"Business card Back" by dmcordell

#3 Another tool I've recently used is an oldie but a goodie, the Flickr badge creator. A few years ago, I decide to add daily photos from the 365 Project to my blog page. Since the badge is directly linked to a specific photoset, I need to update it yearly. This posting provides a link and further information. You can see my Flickr badge in the right sidebar, under the traffic map.

Any tools you'd like to share with me?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

For the Love of Learning

"First Day of My New Job..." by theunquietlibrarian
Personal friend, and professional inspiration, Buffy Hamilton, recently left her position as a high school teacher librarian to join the staff of the Cleveland Public Library.

Her job title at CPL is "Learning Strategist." Not "School Strategist," or "Library Strategist" but "LEARNING Strategist," an inclusive term embracing a wide range of possibilities.

As a semi-retired, (Medicare) card carrying Senior Citizen, I'm concerned with staying mentally active and professionally involved. While doing the Sudoku and Cryptogram each morning is fun, it's hardly a spur to intellectual growth.  So I'd like to adapt the Learning Strategist concept and apply it to my own life.

I will try to
  • make a conscious effort to leave my comfort zone Volunteering to do an Ignite! presentation at the ALA Annual Conference last year was a challenging, somewhat scary, but ultimately very satisfying experience which taught me a lot about presentation zen.
  • read, analyze, and apply Taking in information isn't enough; creation of new knowledge is the highest level of Bloom's Taxonomy. Lifelong learning should be authentic and relevant.
  •  interact with others Social isolation may trigger psychological issues; it can affect any age group, but older citizens are especially vulnerable. Networking, both online and face to face, not only forestalls feelings of isolation, but also serves to deepen understanding through dialog and collaboration.
Buffy and I will be moving in different directions as we explore what it means to be a Learning Strategist. But we will continue to share our experiences and LEARN from each other.

"The excitement of learning separates youth from old age. As long as you’re learning you’re not old." -Rosalyn S. Yalow

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012: My Year in Review

As the New Year begins, I like to take some time to reflect on what has gone before:

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” -Søren Kierkegaard