Tag Archives: ISTE

The Best Laid Plans …

Some rights reserved by Luke Andrew Scowen 2009

When my winter break began I told myself I would sit down, reflect, and write a thoughtful post to close out the year. I had the best of intentions to write a nice long post, maybe even two … and then, my winter break came to an end. At first, I felt guilty about relaxing so much and not making the time to post but I slowly began to reconsider those feelings.

I started to reflect again on how nice it can be to take a break from the pressures to write, reflect, and post and how it’s even nicer to allow yourself to take that break. As my winter break progressed and I let myself enjoy the simple pleasures of reading, visiting with family, and walking around the city, I began to feel refreshed and I could feel my energy and excitement around work and learning naturally rejuvenating. I decided that while it would have been nice to post during my break, I could be happy with posting after it as well. So now that my break is over, here’s my attempt at looking back at 2012.

iPad_blog_photo2

The past year has been a year of change, full of endings and new beginnings. To start, after a winter and fall jam-packed with coursework, I finished my masters program in International Training and Education in the spring of 2012. I also had the opportunity to expand my consulting work and in addition to managing websites and facilitating Twitter chats and webinars, I led an online summer book club and traveled to Senegal. During my second trip to Africa, I saw less of the countryside but met many more people (over 300 in fact!), as I managed the social media and online spaces for an international conference. I learned a great deal about child protection systems and had the opportunity to connect with some great new colleagues.

After my African adventures, I moved from D.C. back to Philadelphia and into one of my new favorite spots in the city. I had a chance to explore some more of the local parks and restaurants before heading out to my first NAEYC Professional Development Institute (PDI) as a Lasting Legacy Scholar. It was an educative experience and I appreciated the opportunity to connect with so many other professionals in the field of early childhood education. I was also able to help facilitate the first Tech Play Date and share in technology explorations with other early childhood professionals. The PDI was followed closely by my first ISTE conference, which set the stage for our new Early Learning and Technology Special Interest Group (SIGELT) that just recently launched.

ISTE and the Tech Play Date were the perfect prelude to my new position as a Technology Coordinator at a private school, working with Pre-K through 2nd grade, which I began in late August. Since then, I have been engaged in technology explorations, troubleshooting, and collaborations with the students and teachers at my school. I have introduced a range of new tools and apps and together we have explored their applications in the classroom. For example, to start the school year, some students used Skitch on the iPad to annotate photos showing what they like to do in first grade. I have also worked to facilitate some cross-class collaborations, such as a Voicethread exchange among the kindergarten classes, where each student added an audio recording as an introduction to her or his photo and then left a comment on a photo of a new peer in a different kindergarten class.

Not long after our initial projects were finished, I traveled to Atlanta for my 5th NAEYC annual conference. I had a wonderful time talking technology and networking with new friends and colleagues at Tech on Deck and enjoyed attending sessions with people who I had only “met” before on Twitter! I returned to my school with new inspiration for Reggio-inspired, maker-based technology explorations and since then, I have continued to integrate new tools for student expression and creation into the classroom.

DNLE

As the year came to an end, I looked back on all of the posts I had written, here on this blog as well as the tech tips on my school blog, and I felt renewed excitement about all of the things I have learned and experiences I have had. I tried my first MOOC (Standford DNLE) this year, working with partners in Singapore, South Korean, and Iran for our final project and I had the chance to moderate some #Globalclassroom chats to make even more global connections. I continue to learn constantly from my PLN on Twitter, Google+ Communities, and other social media networks, as well as from new friends and colleagues who I get to see in-person.

After giving one small workshop and with another under-review, I have made efforts to begin sharing more of my knowledge and experience with technology as a tool for global learning.  Meanwhile, the small collaborations and global connections that are just beginning to blossom at our school via Skype and Twitter feel like they are a great foundation for future collaborations and the tech projects that are underway are beginning to feel truly integrated with classroom work and curricula. All in all, I think it has been a year of successful change, a year of growth and transition that I hope will lead to even more learning and discovery. Up next, I want to do some forward thinking about the future and what I want to achieve in 2013!

Let’s Share More and Duplicate Less at #ISTE12

Recently, I blogged about my first ISTE conference experience. After having some time to reflect, I want to share a few more thoughts and questions that have continued to bounce around in my head.

The theme of all of these ideas is the search for consistency from one’s educational philosophy to practice. I think many educators feel that their teaching philosophy is one that focuses on the student. It is a philosophy that values engagement, creativity, open-ended inquiry and exploration, as well as empowerment and respect. A philosophy that entails fostering collaboration and sharing among students and the creation of projects and meaningful products. Yet, when we step back and examine our practice, often times parts of this philosophy are missing, especially when it comes to practicing these tenets amongst ourselves. When we gather as educators, shouldn’t we practice our philosophy with one another?

Today, we talk about flipping the classroom but when will we flip the conference? While many of the ISTE conference materials were made available online during or after the event, they were rarely distributed prior to sessions in a way that would allow attendees to show up ready to discuss and engage in the material. ISTE was an amazing and rich experience but I believe it could have been even richer if there were less lecture and unidirectional dialogue in sessions and more collaboration, sharing, and discussion. In watching the post-conference Twitter feeds and blog posts, I’m continuing to learn so much content and I almost wish the content could be distributed before/after the conference so that sessions would be freed up for debate, sharing, questioning, and collaborative thinking.

The conference is such a unique opportunity for collaboration, creation, and communication across disciplines and roles, as people travel thousands of miles to gather face to face in one place. It seems like the perfect opportunity for people to sit down and deepen relationships, move beyond tools to think about their purpose and plan for technology use. It could be a chance for groups to make concrete plans and next steps about what we can each do for our own professional growth in using educational technologies and how we can share what we’ve learned to make a difference in our districts, our schools, and our classrooms.

We ask our students not to be consumers of media and technology tools but to be producers and creators of innovative works and collaborative products. What are the products that we each created at #ISTE12 that we can use to contribute to our local communities and the larger global education community?

One product could easily involve the many tools, resources, and ideas that were being shared across sessions, disciplines, and devices. I would love to see more unified collaboration and sharing, especially when we have so many tools at our disposal (e.g., Twitter, Google Docs, Evernote notebooks, Symbaloo mixes) to help each of us to share notes and links in real-time during the conference and asynchronously after it ends, so we can take advantage of being part of such a thoughtful community. I’m also guilty of curating my own tools, resources, and ideas from the conference and I understand that we each might be gathering specific resources for specific goals but I wonder if it’s still possible to share more and duplicate our work less. I was so excited to see this new compilation of posts with ISTE 2012 reflections and this Google Doc full of collaborative notes. I know many Google Docs and other backchannels were shared out during the conference and I hope we can gather them all in one place.

In addition to curating these resources for ourselves, I think it is just as important to document our learnings from the ISTE conference for others who could not attend or had not heard of the conference. While at ISTE, in a session where I ended up knowing most of the content, someone asked me why I was tweeting. I replied that I wasn’t tweeting for myself, I was tweeting for my PLN.

As an educator inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, I believe deeply in the power of documentation to prompt reflection, demonstrate learning, and capture inquiry. I also believe that we need to model and practice what we are looking for in our classrooms and from our students. So I work to create products to document my own learning (e.g., blog posts, tweets, pinboards) so I can share it with others and engage them in a discussion about how, when, why, and if various tools and approaches I have learned about would fit in various educational settings. I worked hard to tweet throughout the conference but I was disappointed at the seemingly small number of people I saw tweeting through sessions and sharing out their ideas, tools, and questions.

I know (but at times struggle to remember) that social media, while an amazing tool for professional development and networking, is still new to many. I want to help use tools like Twitter to demonstrate to others how one person, attending one conference, can affect so many when knowledge is captured and shared globally online.

Curious George, my curiosity mentor!

I know one blogger (@engaginged) was recently discussing the challenge of breaking into the key networking areas at ISTE and as a newbie myself, I found this to be true. I appreciated his challenge to try and find a way to connect everyone at the conference into the same conversation and maybe, if more of us begin to tweet, blog, and share openly during the conference, there will be more space for inclusion and collaboration. And maybe to give things a little push, ISTE could even consider partnering new attendees with mentors who have experience in using tools to share during the conference, visiting the various networking lounges, and migrating new relationships to online spaces so they can continue after the conference. What do you think, would you want an ISTE mentor?