(Please note, this is cross posted on the Wisconsin DEN Blog)
On Thursday of the DEN LC Symposium, we took a break from Bentley University and took a field trip via trolley to downtown Boston. There, we attended the Building Learning Communities conference, put on by November Learning. A couple of DEN STARS, Lee Kolbert and Teryl Magee were presenting at the conference. I didn’t attend either of their sessions, but from what I saw on Twitter, things went well. I was pretty excited to attend this conference, not only to catch a few sessions and see some friends, but most importantly, to watch the keynote by Michael Wesch. He’s the one behind the Vision of Students Today video. I heard Dr. Wesch give the keynote at WEMTA, our state technology conference in the spring of 2009. He gave a great keynote then and he did the same again in Boston. While the topic of his talk was different than is was over a year ago, I did see some similarities in parts of his presentation. Regardless, he had a great message and delivered it a humorous, easy to understand manner. When he finished, he got a standing ovation.
The rest of the day included several sessions, one by Lisa Thumann (resources here). I wanted to attend this session because she was going to be talking about YoLink. I’m interested in learning a little more about this search tool and she shared some information. I later visited with a couple of guys from YoLink to get more information. I’m looking forward to trying this with my students. I also attended a session Visual Literacy. We need to help our students the best we can when it comes to building background knowledge and helping them understand concepts. Pictures and videos can do that and I can certainly say, it’s not happening enough in my school. Our students haven’t had a wide range of activities in their lives to broaden their experiences so anything we can do to help them understand the world around them will be a huge benefit. also attended a session by Adora Svitak. Honestly, I was not impressed. Perhaps I should give this 12 year old prodigy some slack, but it was pretty clear she needs a lot of practice giving presentation. I wasn’t the only one who walked out early. With that being said, I heard quite a few positive things about a keynote she gave the day before.
Due to an unexpected opportunity in the evening, I did not travel back to Bentley with my DEN friends (I missed the rockin’ 70’s themed party back at Bentley). I had time, however, to stay and watch the closing keynote for the day. This was given by Richard Halkett. He is the Directory of Strategy and Research, Global Education for Cisco, in London. I really liked his message – we need to change “the script” to make fundamental changes in education. He said we can simply replace a textbook with a Kindle. We have to make bigger changes. Just doing the same thing with a different tool is like changing from a blue pen to a red pen. He’s right.I did have similar conversations with several people about the sessions themselves. Many of us felt that the attendees were very much at the beginner level when it comes to education technology, some of the tools involved, and integrating the technology into the curriculum. A number of people noted the lack knowledge most audience members had attending this conference. It was a huge change compared to ISTE, which many of us attended. I do think it’s a good thing that there are less experienced people attending theses conferences. They are just beginning to grow their learning. It’s not bad they are beginners, it’s a good because they’re learning. I think this confirms a couple of things. The first is that there is still a very large majority of people who are not using enough technology in their classrooms and with their students. I think we all probably witness this in our schools. The second thing is that the technology knowledge level of the DEN LC members is head and shoulders above the average teacher.
It was a good day. I’m very thankful to Lance and the DEN leaders who worked out our attendance. It was a nice change of pace from Bentley and a different opportunity for us to learn – even though we all had to wear our DEN LC Symposium t-shirts, kind of like a school group on a field trip. I guess when you think about it, we were.