Jun 29, 2008

EduBloggerCon 08 is over and it was quite a day. For me, it was something of a battle just to get there, having flown through the night, with flight delays putting me on the ground (exhausted) at 9:00am Saturday morning. I rushed over to the convention center, grabbed Arlene out of the waning moments of her first session (Google apps, I think) and she graciously oriented me as to the "whos" and "hows."

This is a unique conference, or "unconference" as Steve likes to refer to it, in that it is run entirely by the participants. Session ideas are submitted via the conference wiki, and the participants vote on which sessions they want to attend. Sessions themselves are less of a typical "sage on the stage" session, and more group discussion. The trick is to get the right people in the room to drive the conversation, so gathering opinionated bloggers (like me ;-) in one space is a master stroke for engaged, vigorous idea wrangling and debate.

The first session I made turned out to be Social Networking in the Classroom - a good one for me, since I will be presenting on that very topic on Monday at 2pm.. Vicky Davis, Julie Lindsay, Darren Draper, Kevin Honeycutt, Steve Hargadon, Arlene, and I were among 100 or so participants, and the discussion was quite lively. Some key takeaways were:

  • Context is important. Students need to be in an environment that is oriented toward educational goals. All of the content doesn't have to be teacher or assignment driven, but the space needs to be oriented towards education.
  • Nurture an embrace "teachable moments." Social networking tools provide opportunities for learning about digital citizenship, internet safety, copyright, licensing, and even foreign cultures through student mistakes. Embrace those opportunities to educate and guide students. Engage student community members in that process. It's much more impactful when a student shares "right and wrong" with another, and when communities of students learn to police themselves, you've reached nirvana.
  • "Public" is a huge driver. It's great when a student's work is visible to others within a class, but real communities don't form and active engagement is often limited unless they can reach beyond their classroom. There needs to be a certain "critical mass" before students actively engage in self-directed projects and idea building.
  • Start early. Kindergarteners CAN social network. Start by second grade (or as early as possible) so that right habits can be formed, and future problems reduced.
  • Plan ahead. Get your permission slips ready in advance. Decide on your policies and terms of use up front. Prepare administrators with examples of successes and a well designed plan.
  • We need to put together some sort of "best practices" wiki, where those of us who have been doing this for a while can make available resources and information for those who are just starting to get their feet wet.

And that was just the first discussion! Vicky was uStreaming and Pearson was filming, so hopefully there will be some video available soon. I'll post links in the comments when I find it.

I also attended "If the leaders don't get it, it's not going to happen", a bit of both the "Web 2.0 Smackdown" and "Web 2.0 in Teacher Education", and "Web 2.0 is the future of education?" (question mark emphasized), about which I will comment in separate posts. I am particularly interested in synthesizing my thoughts on the leadership session, but as I said, "my brain hurts!"


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  1. Thanks for sharing, Jim. Nice to meet you in person. Look forward to more conversations.

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