EduCon 2.0 has heralded the beginning of a new kind of conference, conceptualized by bloggers, hosted at an innovative school, videocast by students, costing only $50 in-person, and attended for free by at least a couple hundred more online. The conference sessions consistently focused on the interplay between school reform, innovative curriculum, and web tools that support teaching and learning. Most school employees I know can only attend one or two conferences a year. If more conferences offer a rich online component, more education professionals will be able to enrich their knowledge and practice.
Now I need to figure out how to carve time out of the week to watch more sessions. Amongst the weekend’s demands, I only really watched three sessions, yet there are at least 45 more archived online! I caught Tom Hoffman’s discussion on Coalition principles and School 2.0 — a lively discussion carried on while Tom listened and summarized. I was briefly dropped in on Using Moodle, and Extreme Makeover: Library Edition while juggling children but then watched an entire session in which student playwrights shared their collaborative online writing practice.
Guilty pleasure: being able to sample different sessions until I found one I liked best!
I will contradict myself immediately by challenging some of the presenters to focus more on learning and less on technology. A couple of sessions succeeded in talking about new models for schooling without mentioning technology at all, but those that did talk tech gave it a lot of time. I realized this weekend that many teachers resist Web 2.0 tools because the tools do not yet offer a sufficiently rich learning environment. We have experienced successive waves of technology innovation, but each time the medium changes, we start building new learning environments from scratch. It takes years before video collections, interactive multimedia, and Web 2.0 tools evolve to provide tools to match the richness of a master teacher’s classroom strategies. Only through focus on pedagogy and curriculum will School 2.0 conferences advance the development of increasingly immersive, interactive, structured electronic environments for learning.
Many thanks to Chris Lehmann for hosting EduCon 2.0 — it must have required a lot of work. I know that the virtual conference was a tremendous success and gather that the in-person conference also went very well. Chris set the bar high by broadcasting eight strands on uStream — who knew that it was going to work so smoothly? Sure, the video streams stalled frequently, especially on Saturday, but I felt very lucky to be able to view sessions from 3,000 miles away and engage in conversations with other remote attendees. The technology is only going to get better, and a critical mass have embraced the concepts. Bravo!