Just a few thoughts on my conference experience here while the impressions are fresh. But this might ramble around a bit. Iâ€™m posting this from Flickr so I canâ€™t easily make links â€¦ Iâ€™ll try to add them from outside China.
First I was treated the whole time like a valued professional, by Jeff Utecht and all the people associated with the conference whose names are a blur right now. That might sound as an odd comment, but day in and day out that is not always the norm for teachers. Iâ€™ve never worked harder at a conference in my life, but thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Iâ€™d come back in a flash!
I found it interesting that bandwidth is a consistent struggle at edtech conferences, and that unfortunate fact continued here. However, beyond that the way the conference worked was mainly very well. Each morning the 1st 2 sessions were run like conferences you have probably attended. But after those sessions things changed. Based on your experiences and learning in those sessions attendees could Twitter requests for â€œfollow-upâ€ unconference sessions and/or we could just pick a topic that seemed of interest and offer it up as a possibility. Then a room was assigned and that session popped up on the Ning and the session started. I was in 3 Skype sessions Friday because I offered it once and it just kept getting requested. I was worried Iâ€™d become the â€œSkype Guy.â€ But Friday I did Web 2.0 unconference sessions and one on getting people off the dime and changing what school looks like and another that was just a general question answering, sharing, encouragement seeking kind of mash-up session that I canâ€™t even remember what the original topic was.
The school was a palace compared to most schools Iâ€™ve worked in and the facilities were incredible.
Most of the attendees teach at â€œAmerican Schoolsâ€ in China, Thailand, Qatar, Singapore, and the rest of Asia. And most of these schools have enough tech to fill your wildest integration dreams. But guess what? They are also struggling to deal with the pedagogy of what that looks like â€¦ except they have the tech. What a perfect example of what happens when you donâ€™t change the pedagogy but expect the tech to change it for you. What is worse is youâ€™ve invested all that money in technology that is aging every day. And we have known this for 25 years! The good news is that there is a core group that gets that all too well. What will be worth watching is what transpires over the next few years. Will they get this done and become the model many have sought for years? A group of K-12 schools successfully changing what school looks like? Or another disappointment? I already knew some of the people in that core group, and now I have met more. They just might pull this off. Iâ€™ll be Watching.
It sure is tempting to come and be part of it too!
Learning is messy!!