Some background for those unfamiliar with NECC, and EdubloggerCon. NECC (the National Educational Computing Conference) is an annual conference for the members of ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education). This is a conference focused on education technology and draws folks from around the world, although most are from the U.S. Prior to the start of the official NECC meeting, an informal meeting called, EdubloggerCon is held. This is the third or fourth year of EdubloggerCon. The idea of a “Con” is that it is self-organizing, and invites participation from all attendees. If you want to present, you simply post up on the Agenda wiki, and see if folks come. Here are some links related to the overall event:
The schedule: http://www.edubloggercon.com/DC+2009+Agenda.
And here are my accounts of the sessions I participated in:
The discussion was about Web 2.0 and professional development. We discussed what’s changed, and what hasn’t and how to make it effective. The first question was about whether or not we used back channels in our trainings. Most of us found this was either not possible, or not something our PD audience was ready for. We then split into groups to discuss matter further. This was interesting talking in our group about the different elements of a PD session. There is the physical: are you in a lab, or do participants have laptops? How is it organized: into a series or one-off sessions? What is the content: tools, or embedding their use in curriculum? Do you keep showing new “tools” or work on perfecting the use of what you’ve already shown? How does titling affect attendance: I had someone expect PowerPoint in a session titled Beyond PowerPoint, and someone had folks not showing up to a Social bookmarking session because they didn’t know what that was? Big take away quote in my group was from someone who said they told participants they could keep laptops open, and she was going to respect them as professionals, and asked they consider showing the same trust and respect for their students. We came back to discussing back channels when we got back together, which was funny because because during the live blog I received a comment from someone in a GIS session with no back channel, so she was in our live blog. Maybe a back channel there would have kept her “on task”?
Contrary to Wes Fryer’s expectations, Pearson in the person of Elaine Roberts did show up, but this time they did not bring cameras. I suggested after the introductions that we agree by consensus that all material discussed would be under a Creative Commons Share, and Share-alike, Attribution license. This would mean that anything ANYONE used outside would have to be acknowledge, and would in could not be copyrighted. This was the some of the complaint about Pearson last year, and I think made things fair, and clear. It was a brief moment and we went onto more productive discussions.
My Liveblogging at EdbubloggerCon at NECC
This session was about deciding on an online application to build, then hiring a contractor to do it. There are a number of rent-a-contractor services and Mark had used one in the past to do some work. The goal was to figure out an app to put out to bid, and to collect donations from participants to pay for it (micro-funding?). The back channel for this was in tiny chat, and I don’t have an archive. I will try to do a follow up if this project has life outside EdubloggerCon.
Titled, “Where School Reform Meets Madonna: Can public schools fundamentally reinvent themselves?” This had an interesting group of educators discussing whether public education could reform itself and/or be reformed. My Liveblogging is here and I did my part to participate in the discussion ;-). The conversation started with Jon posing the question, can we change it all, and does it all need to be changed? We discussed the state of things, with Jeff Utecht pointing out the positive; schools and education have broken into “niche” markets. Being the cheerful sort, I pointed out that we also were experiencing a re-segregation of schools by social-economic status, race, and language to such a high degree that I often found myself the only white person in the room when teaching. This cannot be a good thing. Sylvia Martinez pointed to the history of modern schooling which came out of the need to educate and socialize huge numbers of immigrant children to be “Americans” driven in large part by fear of immigrant delinquency and foreign-ness. The discussion then went onto whether choice and charters were the answer with some disagreement about whether charters “stole” money (ADA) and students, and those who were more student centered feeling that these things were not neccessarily the districts’ by “right”. I would say I agree with Bethany V. Smith when she said, that charters had not shown much promise as a vehicle of reform, which jibes with my feelings that charters are “an” answer, not “the” answer, and a lot more will have to be done to “improve” education.
The discussion went onto the divergences about basic understandings and goals. Some moments from that section were non-educator stakeholders (parents, voters without school-aged children, business people, etc.) do not share our understanding of what skills-set is needed, and what teaching methods will get students there (participatory, project based, using 21st century tools). Scott McLeod pointed out that there are some educators in rural areas he supports who do not want to have students get these skills because they fear this will exacerbate the brain-drain from farming communities. I discussed that people really do not get how crude a measure standardized tests can be, and that we should looking at pushing portfolio based assessments. Doug Johnson wisely stated that to change what we are teaching, we need to change what we assess, because the teaching follows what and how they are assessed.