29 January 2010

EduCon 2.2 - So Much to Learn in So Little Time

This weekend I have the fortunate opportunity to attend the EduCon 2.2 Conference this weekend in Philadelphia, PA.  I will be traveling there with a colleague of mine and my school was nice enough to pay for most of the costs of the conference.  I see this as a sign that my school is willing to make the changes needed to move our school into the 21st century.  Also, I hope the conference, the networking and conversations held there will give me new ideas and insight into the changes we need to be making.

First, EduCon is not a "technology conference," (although technology is a big part of it) but rather it is a place for innovation in education.  As the axioms state:
  1. Our schools must be inquiry-driven, thoughtful and empowering for all members
  2. Our schools must be about co-creating — together with our students — the 21st Century Citizen
  3. Technology must serve pedagogy, not the other way around
  4. Technology must enable students to research, create, communicate and collaborate
  5. Learning can — and must — be networked
These principles give a clear way forward on talking about education in the 21st century and how we bring about change and reform.

For those of you who cannot attend, you can follow and participate in the conference through Twitter by following the hashtag #educon or through Elluminate which will be providing live streams of all 76 sessions or "conversations."

My biggest problem is deciding which conversations to attend.  So many look really good.  The great thing about them being streamed through Elluminate is that they can be accessed later.  At this point, here are my top sessions I hope attend or view later (but these could change once we arrive!).  If you follow the links you can get more information about the sessions and how to follow on Elluminate.
  • Tinkering Towards Technology Fluency - Tinkering is a time honored way to learn, invent, and innovate. Yet in schools, tinkering is viewed as wasted time, while instead we teach students to make, do, and invent using rigid procedures with tight timelines. How can we bring the creative benefits of tinkering back to the classroom?  
  • Teaching Big Ideas to 21st Century Learners through collaboration, innovation, and differentiation - Presented by a Program Consultant and Classroom Teacher from Ontario - Come see the power of a collaborative and engaging online learning environment that meets the needs of 21st Century learners in elementary and middle schools.  
  • Thinking Creatively: Inventing the Possible - If schools kill creativity, then what hope do we have of helping our students be prepared to devise creative and imaginative solutions to problems in their futures? Come examine frameworks for thinking and working creatively. Explore and experience creativity, innovation, and imagination in action. Reframe your problems into opportunities
  • 21st Century Classrooms or 21st Century Learning? - We've all been encouraged to build a 21st century classroom full of cool technology tools and gadgets, yet many have witnessed the underwhelming change these tools have brought to student learning. Why is that? We'll explore this dilemma as we work collaboratively to clarify a vision and a process for creating digital age learning environments.
  • Educational Commissioning and Project Based Learning - What if school wasn't just like real life, what if it just was real life? - Why we attend school, what we accomplish while we are here, how we spend our time; these are the issues I would like to investigate as we consider how to make 'school' more about meaningful and enriching life experiences, and less like hoop jumping and necessary evil.
  • Best Practices: Project-Based Learning in Forward-Thinking Schools - Explore project based learning using real examples of projects from two different non-traditional urban high schools. We'll discuss the characteristics of a good project and share strategies for designing projects to maximize student learning and engagement. 
  • The Democratization of the Classroom in the 21st Century - The intention of this workshop is to explore how the ideal of more democratic and progressive classrooms might look today in light of 1:1 computing, networked communication and other tools that might be available. 
  • Rethinking Portfolios - Portfolios can be used to document the process of learning, and to document what has been learned. In this conversation, we will look at how these two facets of learning can be mutually supportive. Moreover, we will look at portfolios as tools for student learning and teacher professional development.
Again, EduCon promises to be a really great experience.  You can follow me via my Twitter feed and I will blog about my experiences as soon as possible.

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