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


Scott S. Floyd said...

Enjoyed meeting you face to face finally! See you again soon.

Donna Baumbach said...

Thanks for this! I enjoyed reading your take on things. I've yet to find two people who experience the same conference the same way--even when joined at the hip!

Love that the ipad made you feel liberated! Brave move!

diane said...

Thanks, Scott. Have you got the blueprint for that Utopian School now?

Donna, I wasn't leading a session, so I didn't have to worry about slides. Just needed to figure out how to upload photos, not difficult, but more time consuming than on my laptop.