Tag Archives: symbaloo

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?

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#ISTE12 – A Sonic Boom in the #EdTech World

On my last day in San Diego, two jets performing a demonstration created a sonic boom (“A loud explosive noise caused by the shock wave from an aircraft traveling faster than the speed of sound”) causing many to wonder if there had been a small earthquake. As I boarded my plane, I realized it was a nice representation of the reverberation I have been feeling since I experienced the shock wave of attending my first ISTE conference.

An ISTE conference can briefly be summarized as a large, loud explosion of learning, networking, and curating. I took in high volumes of information and was exposed to new tech tools, PLN members, and ideas each day. I don’t think I have ever been to a five day conference (#SocialEdCon + #ISTE12) before and I have to say, it is an intensive experience. The amount of information I’m taking in has decreased since the conference ended but my thoughts and questions have not. I’m still trying to process and place everything I heard and to think creatively about how I can integrate it into my working knowledge of technology in education, particularly with young children and in global collaborative projects.

I was too exhausted each night to try and curate the #ISTE12 Twitter stream (although it was actually smaller than I had anticipated) but I did try to capture as many tools, resources, and key points as I could via my favorites (and subsequently Evernote, thanks to IFTTT). I’m still reviewing all of the tech tools I captured and hope to curate them in a more organized fashion via Pinterest or Symbaloo soon.

Aside from specific tools, I also learned or was reminded of a number of conference tips while at ISTE12. There was SO MUCH going on at this conference and at first I was concerned about how I would navigate everything from sessions, to playgrounds, to lounges! But after I took time to slow down a bit and review all of the various opportunities and activities, I realized that each one fulfilled unique goals. Here are some of my tips for navigating the different offerings:

Tip 1: If you really want to attend a specific session, make sure to get there at least 20 minutes early! I showed up to a couple of sessions only 5-15 minutes early and found them closed due to the room being at full capacity. I realized that if I really wanted a seat, I needed to get there far in advance.

Tip 2: When choosing sessions, remember it’s not just about the title. Check out the presenter too! The topic of a session may be important but an engaging, talented presenter can be equally key when trying to decide what to attend. S/he can prompt you to think critically and consider new ideas that you might not have considered if you only attended sessions on topics you’re already comfortable with. Plus, a presenter will probably keep your attention longer if the discussion is engaging you than if s/he is only reading from PowerPoint slides.

Tip 3: Remember to set goals! Before attending the conference, figure out what your goal is in going to the conference. Are you there to network? To learn about a new teaching approach or set of tools? Is it a combination? Revisit your goals during the conference and update them in response to the people you’re meeting, the sessions you attend, and your overall sense of what you want to gain from the conference to find out what fits you best and what will meet your professional needs.

Tip 4: It’s not just about attending, it’s also about interacting. As overwhelmed as you might be when trying to sort through your conference agenda make sure to schedule time to meet and talk face to face with presenters and other colleagues who are at the conference. Technology allows us to connect and build relationships from afar but when we’re together we should take advantage of that and the learning/sharing that can occur in-person.

Tip 5: Block out time EACH DAY for reflection. I realized too late in the conference that what I should have done each night was choose a specific time the next day that I would protect for reflection and processing  (don’t even tempt yourself by looking at session titles during that time block!) because with so much going on, it was easy to keep pushing off time to think until I was too tired each night to do it. Next time, I’ll schedule “Reflection Sessions” in my conference planner.

As ideas from the conference continue to percolate, I’m left with some remaining questions …

Global education seems to have embraced technology as a meaningful tool for collaboration and communication across cultures, ages, and countries. It’s a field that seems to understand that the focus of technology use needs to be on learning, integration, and relationships.

  • Why is technology used so successfully for intentional exchange and educative experiences in global education?
  • Is it because technology is the only tool that can so easily and cheaply breakdown language and geographic barriers?
  • Is it because the goal of global collaborative projects is about the relationships from the beginning whereas tech use in other settings is often about technology use/instruction?
  • How can we help technology be seen (and used!) as a tool for meaningful exchange, dialogue, and collaboration, starting in early childhood and continuing through higher education?

Finally, I’m still reflecting and questioning the bubble that exists for those using technology in education and the even smaller bubble of those using social media in education for learning and networking. Is it permeable enough? How do we move in and out of it and expand beyond that bubble to have a more inclusive, dynamic, and global PLN across disciplines?

More thoughts (and questions!) to come …