Flatclassroom Conference Day 1: WOW


When you create a conference around students it takes on a whole new meaning. When you challenge those students to take on a project that will impact the world….it means even more.

I wish I could describe to you the energy level that was in this room that that you see to the left. Students from around the world, thinking together on how to solve global issues using technology. This was just the beginning, from here they broke into teams and by the end of Monday they will pitch an idea to the world. That idea will also be the focus of the next flatclassroom project.

I have to say….in all the prep work that Vicki and Julie did for this conference right up until the point it started I still did not have a clear picture of how it was all going to work. 10 minutes after we started…the picture became much clearer. These students are focused, are dedicated, and man how I wished this could just be school and not a weekend conference.

Not everything went smooth, the Ustream channel was in and out, but I think we ended up capturing most of it. The Elluminate session with EduCon 2.1 was not good, and the audio setup in the Auditorium wasn’t perfect. The nice thing is these are all add-ons to the conference and are not really the reason we’re here, they are just ways we’re trying to share our collective knowledge here in Doha with the rest of the world.

The greatest impact tool by far has been the Chazty chatroom that we’ve set up. Vicki introduced it to the students and off they went. There conversation at times was so deep that one student wrote:

“This is so good, I’m forgetting to listen.”

By far the highlight of day 1 was the Skype call with Thomas Friedman. The kids asked some very good questions and Mr. Friedman did an excellent job of answering them. It was a great moment.

The question I wanted to ask and didn’t get a chance to way this:

Seeing that we are in a world wide recession, what do you think the world will look like on the other side of it? Will new countries rise to power and old giant get left behind? Will the new world economy that emerges look different than the one that went into the recession? And just how hot, flat, and crowded do you think it will be on the other side?

Tomorrow is more thinking as the students get back into their projects. I’ll be giving a 10 minute TED type talk tomorrow as well as a session to the students on presentation skills and telling their story. I’m looking forward to those, and to just hanging out with an amazing bunch of kids. You can’t help but absorb some of their energy!

6 Comments

  1. This conference reminds me of Alan November’s article titled “Drill the Teachers, Educate the Kids

    What would it take to move all of our conferences in this direction?

  2. You did a GREAT job and were a phenomenal facilitator. It was so hard to describe what we hadn’t yet seen at a conference. Really, it was the product of so many discussions with you and so many others about making students the reason we’re here.

    Gosh, so many things need improvement but somehow I think if we continue to move it from place to place each year we may have similar issues – especially if we go to a very remote place. But the spirit was unquellable and very contagious.

    Your work was incredible and you did a great job. Thank you!

  3. Thanks so much for being here Jeff. Most of your Ted Talk I have translated into our School newsletter. It is hard to ignore those graphic facts of ICT usage. Looking forward to continuing the energy in Washington.

  4. You did a GREAT job and were a phenomenal facilitator. It was so hard to describe what we hadn’t yet seen at a conference. Really, it was the product of so many discussions with you and so many others about making students the reason we’re here

  5. The Flatclassroom project is such a great idea! It was amazing to see how students from all over the world can work efficiently together.

  6. This sounds like an amazing idea. In the future it would be interesting to find a way to connect with students around the world, allowing them to participate via Web 2.0, either through a wiki, or using webcasting.

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