Innovate, Educate

The notes from day 2 of the conference are below:

Arnold Wasserman: Innovation in Education

Keys to Innovation

This conference has talked a lot about innovation via theoretical models, practical examples from a variety of sectors, and personal experience.  There seem to be two important foundations: a clear focus on a measurable goal, and an understanding of a process to motivate people to achieve that goal.  So I wonder, what if you don’t agree with the innovation goal?  Innovation seems to be about herding divergent members of an organization that puts form and structure to collecting and disseminating effective ideas across the organization.  What if your ideas don’t align with the goal?  The answer often given in other sectors was, “employees then leave the organization.”

Innovation or Ego or Thinking?

The first annual Canadian Microsoft Innovative Teachers Conference is underway and it is an honour to be with such amazing folks.  Quick question: is there anything that is a bigger indicator of ego than hearing a sentence start with “I’m innovative because…”  What am I learning?  I’m learning how other sectors outside of education think then comparing the similarities and differences to the education context.

Here are notes from the first day:

Building Capacity for Reflection and Recognition: Adapting Menus and Name

The following items are a summation of multiple development and programming sessions. The site now is able to rate projects, recognize active members, provide a more focussed navigation experience, and clarify ‘Events’ by renaming this element as ‘Scheduled Projects’.

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The ‘Five Star’ module has been enabled for the ‘Events’ (that has been renamed ‘school projects’, see final paragraph for this post). This will allow for participants and onlookers to rate a project using the dynamic rating module and add their comments (reflections) to explain their rationale. This is critical to embed reflection into the process of working on a project, both for the active participating teachers and the educators that are just viewing different projects.

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A Points system has been enabled within the site to encourage participants to be active members. This will also allow identification of who is an active member of this community. When wondering if someone would be willing to engage in cross classroom collaboration, the participant can then search for users who have received points for each activity they have done on the site. This may be 5 points for sending a private message, 10 points for adding a ‘project’, and so on. Community fatigue occurs and this tool can allow identification of members who are most engaged within this process.

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The left hand navigation menu has been streamlined and most default elements have been removed.

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Events have been renamed ‘Scheduled Projects’

Leading Learning: The Rest of the Story

The gathering is over.  We have all returned our lanyards, returned room keys, fought traffic, and arrived home to kiss the family.  Gatherings are social, as is learning.  The best part of this conference was the interaction with colleagues, whom we normally meet with virtually and asyncrhonously, around ideas.  I learned from a host of colleagues including: Jane Smith, Mr. Raposo, Rob De Lorenzo, Doug Sadler, Quentin D’Souza, and others through informal conversation. Leading Learning has wrapped up and I will briefly link to a series of notes and reflections from today’s events.

The one troubling thread through the conference seems to be a lecture style of delivery.  Keynotes offered little to no time for discussion and connections to the learning.  Just sit and listen.  If social networking is really social and if learning is really social, then why did we all sit in the same room silently?  Why not (at the very least) share a chunk of information and then have tables share their connects, thoughts, and concerns with it.  Why not mix participants up and get us talking to people out of our comfort zones?  Or is all this talking about social learning just spouting buzzwords? Please don’t misunderstand this concern.  This is not an attack on the conference organizers or the content that was shared.  The content was quality.

Here is the content from today:

Eloquent Seductions: Using Pop Culture to Cultivate Critical Thinking
Shari Graydon | Notes are available here.

There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear
Bill Muirhead, University of Ontario Institute of Technology | Notes are available here.

So YOU have to teach Media Literacy….
Sandra Borzellino & Tania Sterling | Notes are available here.

E-schooling and ICT for intercultural learning
Dr. Roger Austin, University of Ulster | Notes are available here.

Leading Learning Day 1: Lots o’ Theory

This week I’m attending the Leading Learning Conference in Scarborough, Ontario.  Two days of technology and education that is shaken and stirred by some excellent presenters during the day one sessions by George Siemens and others.  What follows is a collection of links to my notes and some initial reflections.  This conference has provided some great ideas and some concerns.

My concern is about balance.  The continuum between theory and practice seems to be too heavily weighted on the side of potential.  The keynotes have been thought provoking, exploring new concepts, and potential of learning within the learning systems that we represent.  The breakout sessions could be more focused.  What if every breakout session had to report on a project or learning that has already occured with students or as professional development?  Instead of “maybes” and “should bes”, the sessions may delve deeper into the realities of learning with technology.  Just a thought.

Kicking off this conference was George Siemens with his presentation:
On Becoming: The cognitive and social impact of technology
Slides are available | My notes are available

Siemens provided a theoretical framework for the information to follow.  A key quote charged the group to ask how we are thinking about learning and technology.  He stated that, “we are at a ‘jumping off point’ where we can use technology to use an existing framework or as a transformative agent.”  Then cautioned that “our ability to act, influence, and change far exceeds our ability to understand.”  So what will be the cause of all the change that we clamour for?  The notes provided show a full understanding of my notes.

Mike Parkhill, Microsoft Canada was next
The Internet, Safety and the Next Five Years
My notes are available

Parkhill provided a cautionary tail.  The world is a scary place, so be careful.

Breakout session 1: …by the click of a mouse: Cyberbullying
My notes are available

Built on the concerns of Mike Parkhill from the law and order perspective of a police officer.  I wonder why no teachers or educators ever are allowed to talk about online safety.

Educational Opportunities in Virtual Worlds
Ken Hudson
My notes are available

Second life applications in education.  The wow moment came when Hudson played a video of students training to be boarder guards doing role plays of their future jobs in Second Life.  I think I get it now.  Hudson stated that, “there are experiences in second life that can’t be recreated in the classroom and learning follows.”

Mobile Learning
Rob De Lorenzo
Slides are available | My notes are available

De Lorenzo, a twitter friend that is now a real life friend, presented many concepts to explore with mobile devices.  Cell phones, iPods, PDAs (are these still manufactured?), and ultra portable notebooks were explored within the context of how each of the tools provides specific potential for learning.

I am looking forward to the second day of this conference.

Name, Set, Match

Using the views module the following items were added to a dynamic table Node: Title and Collaboration Comfort field. The filters were used to only select a certain value. This development is significant as I can now find a person’s profile field and link to them (eventually to be friends / buddies with them).

These views were added into a page created with panels. This can only be seen by an authenticated user.

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