Thursday, February 4, 2010

My EduCon

"At SLA, learning is not just something that happens from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm, but a continuous process that expands beyond the four walls of the classroom into every facet of our lives.
-Science Leadership Academy, Mission and Vision

Each person brings to an event his/her own prior knowledge, expectations, and level of commitment.

Each person then departs having undergone a unique experience.

During MY EduCon, I particularly enjoyed Sylvia Martinez's exploration of Tinkering Towards Technology Fluency and the Alec Couros/Dean Shareski conversation about technology innovations in teacher education.

Sylvia suggested that schools provide time for tinkering: an opportunity for unstructured exploration and creative risk-taking. To the well-known Sustained Silent Reading, she would add a period of Sustained Noisy Tinkering...for both students and teachers...where trying something new, that may very well "fail," is celebrated rather than censured.

Alec and Dean described their interactions with pre-service teachers. This led to an exchange of ideas about being a transparent, reflective practitioner and reiteration of the importance of becoming a member of communities "connected by passion."

Both of these sessions deepened my understanding of, and extended my thinking about, innovation and the nature of learning.

Falling Down the "Alice Project" Rabbit Hole was valuable to me for a different reason: it beautifully modeled the ideal of students and teachers in a mutually-enriching educational activity. Listening to Benedikt and Mike articulate their classroom experiences, watching them maintain their composure in front of a large group of interested adults, was an impressive demonstration of what young people can achieve when given the chance. Whether or not their blog postings were consistently of the highest caliber, these teens have obviously learned how to effectively collaborate, create, and communicate...all those skills we label "21st century."

I enjoyed the informal lunchtime Encienda, where presenters had 5 minutes each to share an idea via 20 slides (which automatically advanced every 15 seconds). It was a good object lesson in how to compress and refine information, then enhance it with attention-grabbing images, while communicating effectively with your audience.

Above all, the most important aspect of EduCon (or any other conference) for me was the opportunity to connect personally with people: some old friends, some new, equally valued, equally valuable.

I'm still processing my EduCon experience. Next year I plan on returning to Philadelphia, to continue my learning journey. I hope will join me there.

You can see a slideshow of my Philadelphia/EduCon photos here.


lbilak said...

Thank you for letting me experience a glimpse of Educon with you. I am still passionate about being connected to the people who understand where the future of education is leading us. You are in the fray leading the charge with the innovators. Kudos to you. Next year maybe we will be there together!

diane said...

Oh, Linda, I hope so! You would so love it. Intimate scale, conversations day and night. People come with varying levels of tech expertise but speak a common language and share a common vision.

diane said...

(and dining out every evening isn't too shabby either!)

Shelley said...

Diane, you managed to capture so much with this well-crafted look back! I didn't attend any of the sessions you mentioned, but felt that I had a little glimpse in... yay for your descriptions and ever-present camera!

diane said...

Thank you, Shelley! Sometimes it's not so much what is said, but the spin-off ideas that count. EduCon never fails to stimulate my imagination - takes me months to process all that I've heard and seen.

Christian Long said...

Your opening lines re: how everyone has their 'own' experience at Educon particularly resonates with me. I also loved your photo of Mike laughing (and looking very comfortable in front of everyone) during his part of the Alice Project conversation.

diane said...

Thanks, Christian.

The best teachers are adept facilitators: you are confident enough in what you do to step back and let your students take center stage.

Both Benedikt and Mike were poised and articulate. Whatever their life path(s), the communication and critical thinking skills they've gained from this project will be invaluable.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for your pictures and comments. I've watched EduCon from a distance, but I felt like this gave a closer in view. I appreciated seeing how this fit into your journey.

diane said...

It was quite an experience, Nancy - my second time attending in person. If you ever have the chance to participate in Philadelphia, I highly recommend it.

(and, boy, am I glad it was scheduled for last weekend and not this one!)