Another year has come and gone and another Leading Learning conference has come to a close. I felt that the conference was an overall success which provided me with many new insights and opportunities.
The Good: I connected.
Actually, I really connected. Not only did I connect with delegates that I know through my daily practice and those that I’ve met before at other conferences, but I also met those that I had previously met only virtually. I met George Siemens in person when previously, I had only virtual interactions with him. I met Ben Hazzard in person when I previously had only virtual interactions with him. I met Rodd Lucier in person when previously, I had only virtual interactions with him. It is mainly through my relatively new, but growing, Twitter network that made these physical connections possible.
The Good: I learned.
I really enjoyed two of the keynote presentations. The first was George Siemens’ presentation “On Becoming: The Cognitive Social Impact of Technology”. I found his ideas very thought provoking as they pushed my thinking to a new level while still staying grounded to real world situations. Here are some ideas that I found thought provoking:
- New technologies are often used to serve the needs of previous models of teaching and learning
- We don’t think alone – our cognition is distributed
- The job of education is not to train students for jobs but to transform students into critical social thinkers
- We are currently doing things without understanding the implications of what we are doing
- We is smarter than me
- With all technology, there is a transaction cost – in return for technology, we sometimes exchange money, but sometimes we exchange our privacy and personal security
The other presentation I found thought provoking was a keynote presentation by Shari Graydon titled “Eloquent Seductions: Using Pop Culture to Cultivate Critical Thinking”. Shari’s topic was based on media literacy and how media shapes our thinking and our preferences. Here are some ideas that I found thought provoking:
- Media’s messages influence people – both children and adults
- Corporate constructs often create lasting social constructs – i.e. the DeBeers “Diamonds are Forever” campaign in the early 20th century associated the durability of diamonds with the durability of love – now marriage rings usually have diamonds in them
- Media messages are embedded in values and claims
- Media have social and political implications
- When analyzing media, must analyze both the contents of ads and what is left out of ads
The third presentation that I was looking forward to but didn’t get a change to see was a keynots address by Ken Hudson on using virtual worlds in education. I hope to get a chance to see him sometime in the future.
The Good: I presented.
My breakout session, titled “Mobile Learning: Embracing Handheld Devices for the Post Pencil-Classroom” was attended by about 50-60 participants. In it, I discussed how various handheld devices can be utilized to help kids learn and why we should be encouraging its use in classroom instruction. I have had pretty positive feedback so I think the presentation was well received but I must keep in mind that I was “presenting to the converted” so to speak. I wonder how a more diverse audience would have reacted.
The Bad: Microsoft’s Message
I wasn’t impressed by a presentation made by Mark Parkhill, a representative from Microsoft. His presentation was not original, he was speaking to the audience as if he were training a group of parents in how to protect their children from Internet predators, and his presentation was full of fear mongering. Let’s leave it at that.
The Bad: Unclear Digital Interaction
Commun-IT was again used as a platform to encourage teachers to discuss issues brought up in the presentations. However, unlike last year’s event, this space was very underutilized. I’m not quite sure why this happened. Perhaps the space wasn’t advertised enough. Perhaps it was late in being setup. Perhaps people were collaborating in other spaces. I know that I was using Twitter and Google Docs (yes, I reluctantly set up my own Google account – more on that in another post) and not Commun-IT. We will have to definitely revisit this issue of communication platform for next year’s conference.
As I said in the beginning, the conference was an overall success. Looking forward to exploring the issues further with my personal networks.