CUE review....it really is about the conversations and the experiences!
The two things which made me think deeply were a conversation I had with Steve Hargadon and the workshop which the teachers and I presented on our journey which was about how to implement change and what can be done in six months.
The edubloggers meetup ended up just being Steve and myself but we had a great discussion about education. One thing that I have been pondering was our discussion about rigor. What is educational (or intellectual) rigor? As we design more open ended learning and move away from distinct chunks of knowledge it is sometimes harder for the constituency to quantify learning. Therefore, as we redesign courses we need to be transparent in describing the learning. By way of example we talked about the Japan unit I was working on in Moodle. Which is more rigorous? Following the text, learning about the early history of Japan and origins of its culture and passing the book test...OR Placing it in the context of a unit on Asia ( ie not studying in isolation from China and Korea), making connections with modern day Japan students/schools and considering how Japanese culture is carried over to the US by Japanese Americans? I know this seems obvious but my point is we need to be clear in our expression of what we are doing. We need to identify base knowledge the students need in order to explore deeper and we need to explain all of this to our community.
Our workshop was a great experiences on a number of levels. Our opportunity to present grew out of our participation in the ISTE Institute last July. So, Don Knezek, the CEO of ISTE attended our session and his affirmation and encouragement raised the bar, cemented the importance of continuing to move forward and provided the courage for me to continue to embrace change. Our experience at the ISTE Institute provided us with a foundation and a direction for change which will continue to anchor us and sustain our process of growth. The two concepts that we explored at the Institute were the NETS and the Essential Conditions for the integration of technology. As an important side note here-If you have not become involved in the refresh the NETS movement follow this link and give your input before the end of March.
It had been awhile since I had spoken at a conference and as always there were things I personally could have done better but there is something very powerful about the ownership that comes from explaining what you did as a means to provide inspiration and encouragement for others to move forward. The teachers did such a great job of speaking from their hearts and giving witness to the fact that the best way to integrate technology is not to have all the answers but is to get started and to be willing to learn collaboratively with your students! Publicly standing behind what you are doing is a powerful way to create ownership and promote continued change.
I did not attend any earth shattering presentations. Nothing that stretched the envelope on pedagogy or philosophy but I did attend a number of informative presentations. The list of talks were largely centered around issues of how to use tools and that was a good thing in many ways. I knew what tools I needed to understand better and I discovered a couple of new tools. I understand the "cast" in podcasting now, I think I get Google earth and how to use it in the classroom, I learned some tricks of the trade for RSS feeds and even for searching and I learned about some applications of video games in the classroom. Perhaps the best part was that the four teachers who also attended were getting excited about the tools and deepening their understanding too.
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