Tag Archive for educon20

EduCon 2.0 — Loved it

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!
video archive

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!

Getting excited about EduCon 2.0

EduCon 2.0 reminds me of the BAISNet meetings in which I used to participate in San Francisco. A group of educational technologists developed an extremely active network of professionals sharing ideas and helping each other out, and the whole thing grew up organically, through the impromptu messages and initiatives of its members. EduCon 2.0 represents the next logical step, a conference with 48 sessions that grew out of a blogger meetup at NECC last year. Even better, a school is hosting the conference — Science Leadership Academy, which many think has set the standard for “School 2.0,” progressive educational principles greased by a heaping dose of Web 2.0 technologies.

I publicized the conference to the faculty and staff at our school and got little reaction, but I am still hopeful that people will participate in the sessions and share out. One challenge of the virtual conference model is that it’s really difficult to carve 16-some hours out of a typical weekend, and to top it all, I am going to be home alone with the kids! Thank goodness for the archives.

What could we learn through EduCon 2.0? The greatest benefit may lie with the new connections that especially those who attend in person will make with each other. School 2.0 is about making connections, and in-person meetings fuel higher quality online interactions later on. The sessions themselves look promising, albeit slightly homogenous. I’m all for school redesign, but how about some practical aspects of open-source adoption, curricular integration, low-cost laptop programs, or old-fashioned network security? The best part — if the chatter on a particular topic catches fire after the conference, you can always go back and watch it after the fact! I am pleased that the SLA staff will present a number of sessions on their educational model and school experience.