Tag Archive for k12online

Many quality ed-tech conferences this year

I am excited to recruit more teachers to attend terrific ed-tech conferences, especially those focused on learning and located nearby. I sent the following list to my colleagues today in an effort to build interest and make plans.

This year sees an unprecedented number of quality national conferences in educational technology both locally and further afield.


K12 Online Conference
October 13 – November 1
100% Online

This free, fully online conference marks its third year in October.
Speakers record presentations in advance and then participate in online
discussions on a predetermined schedule. All the presentations are
archived for posterity. Most of the leading international figures in
educational technologies have a hand in this one. Now all you need to
do is to carve out some time to watch and participate.

EduCon 2.1
January 23-25, 2009
Science Leadership Academy
Philadelphia, PA

SLA is a public school in Philadelphia with a progressive educational
mission and many thoughtful uses of technology. Their principal, Chris
Lehmann, has established a national reputation as an effective school
leader, education technology blogger, and school reform authority. The
school enjoys a partnership with the Benjamin Franklin Museum and
enrolls an ethnically and socioeconomically representative sample of
students from the city.

EduCon is the school’s groundbreaking "unconference," where teachers
and theorists facilitate participatory discussions rather than giving
conventional presentations. They also took the groundbreaking step of
broadcasting the entire conference via uStream last year, making it
possible to attend and participate "virtually."

Northwest Council of Computer Educators (NCCE)
February 17-20, 2009
Oregon Convention Center
Portland, Oregon

This leading regional conference usually takes place in Seattle, so we
are fortunate to have it in our own backyard this year. The conference
boasts dozens of sessions and features nationally-known presenters. If
you have an idea of what you are looking for, this conference is likely
to offer it — new technologies from all of the main vendors, and
teachers sharing their strategies.

PNAIS Spring Teachers Conference
April 20, 2009
Rowland Hall-St. Mark’s School
Salt Lake City, Utah

Imagine the fall teachers conference that many of us attend annually.
Now imagine the entire thing organized around the role of technology in
education. Keynoted by Ian Jukes, the day promises to focus on 21st
century learners.

Association of Computer Professionals in Education
May 6-8, 2009
The Resort at the Mountain
Welches, Oregon

This is the leading annual conference for computers in education in Oregon. Geared to technical professionals, this conference nonetheless contextualizes our work firmly in the context of teaching and learning. It offers an excellent opportunity to network with Oregon schools and build relationships with local vendors.

PNAIS TechShare
June 28-30, 2009
The Resort at the Mountain
Welches, Oregon

TechShare features practitioner sessions from our peer schools in Oregon and Washington, including Lakeside, Northwest, Evergreen, Overlake, Billings, Meridian, FAIS, OES, and Seattle Academy. The participatory format and small size encourages lots of informal conversation and networking with our colleagues at other institutions. Participants stay at the resort for three days and two nights, and the sessions encourage your participation and ideas. The conference is divided into two strands, "teacher" and "geek." This year’s theme is "Small World," an exploration of tools and techniques that put our students in touch with peers and resources globally.

Building Learning Communities (BLC)
July 27-31, 2009
Copley Plaza Hotel
Boston, Massachusetts

In 2008, Alan November succeeded in focusing this conference primarily on teaching and learning in a technologically-rich world. The best sessions were led by educators creating remarkably student-centered learning environments with technology. Student-led instruction, international collaborations, and social learning were all on display.


Theory/practice divide grows

Things are heating up in anticipation of the summer. Simultaneously, we are wrapping up the current year and starting work summer work. I have the following going on now.

Evaluations: It’s time to write annual staff reflections for the IT department. Each individual completes a self-evaluation, I write a performance review, and then we meet to discuss.

Laptop Survey: We should perform an annual review of our 1:1 student laptop program so that we adapt and improve it over time. Unfortunately, we have not taken a close look at the program since its inception in 2003. This year, we will resurrect three comprehensive surveys from 2003, for parents, teachers, and students. This should provide us with useful information to reflect back to the community in the fall.

Arrivals and departures: Unbelieveable. We have about 30 personnel changes to make, what with the annual arrivals, departures, leaves of absence, long-term substitutes, and internal transitions.

Communicate fall plans: Present at closing faculty meetings to share new plans for the fall.

System replacement: Collaborate with laptop and desktop replacement for users.

Summer training workshops: Finalize schedule, teaching assignments, and open signups.

Web application programming: I am updating the bookstore, admission inquiry, curriculum map, and signup/volunteer applications. I am also going to migrate and adapt my community service script to this school.

insideCatlin redesign: Our intranet has grown like crazy this year, now comprising dozens of courses, tools, links, media galleries, and hundreds of pages of content. It is proving impossible for newbies to find what they are seeking on the site. We plan to transform the home page to provide clear guides to the content that users seek.

Public-facing web site platform migration: We hope to move our public-facing web site to Drupal with the help of a development/consulting firm.

AppleScripts: Finish developing AppleScripts to speed up laptop cleanup and deployment.

Core switch refresh: Follow the progress of this major project and participate when needed.

(I’m sure I’ve left off something important!)

While I am impressed with the manner in which the “blogerati” continue to raise the conceptual level of the ed tech discussion, I fear that this also makes it increasingly irrelevant to the daily work of practitioners like us. Last night, I caught up with my aggregator. Today, I have put together this list of urgent projects and routine tasks. The contrast struck me. I am all for questioning assumptions and redesigning education, but let us not forget the incremental changes that practitioners can make today to improve their work.

Theorists continue to raise the bar for the changes that we should make. They are right, but we also need to answer how to facilitate such discussions within the busy structure of daily school life. Our school is stable, successful, and thoughtful. We are not a technology school. We would like to improve broad aspects of our school — student workload, weekly schedule, global education, experiential learning, service learning, and affordability, among others. It’s hard to find time to focus just on technology, so we squeeze it in where we can, like so many other initiatives. As such, we must make changes over the long term, making technologies available to innovators and helping them share their work with colleagues. We measure progress over a span of years.

I question the focus and timing of the K12 Online Conference this year. It takes place for ten consecutive weekdays. Who can leave school for ten days of professional development in October? Who can follow hours of video presentations while continuing to work at school? This conference is no longer designed for practitioners. Sure, it’s possible that I might view these videos later on, but then the online community has moved on to other pastures. The strands seem more abstract than last year — will practitioners find enough meat to inform their practice?

(rant complete)