Overwhelmed and loving it!

A successful Flatclassroom Conference: Check!

Caught up on grading PSU Grad course: Check!

Caught up on Wetpaint Duties: Check!

Finished teaching first Sat. Grad course with Kim: Check!

(Oh…and a full time job as well): Check!

Completely over-stretching myself: Check!

I’ve had a few blog posts rolling around in my head since I got back from the Flatclassroom Conference and have been chipping away at my to do list to get to a point where I can relax, reflect and start writing some of them down.

The Flatclassroom Conference was an amazing experience. First, it was a conference about students working together….project based learning on a global scale. The interesting part of the whole experience is that what Vicki and Julie put together for the weekend conference isn’t anything that could not be done in any classroom anywhere in the world. It came down to one simple formula:

Empower the Students

It didn’t have to do with technology, it had to do with thinking. It was about giving students a task that was larger than themselves, it was about creating relationships with others from different countries, cultures, and continents and producing something to share with the world.

It was a flat experience.

Just how powerful of a moment was this, to have students from around the world not just gathering anywhere, but gathering in the Middle East? So powerful that Thomas Friedman Skyped in to kick off the conference and Don Tapscott Skyped in to end it. Two great thinkers on the changing nature of our society today helping to frame the experience for myself and the students.

My Take away

In November I wrote a post titled: The reason for f2f in which I started thinking through the reasons we meet face to face to learn. If information is now accessible freely and instantly, why do we still come together in a classroom, at a conference, or at Starbucks for that matter? How do we use our face to face time in a way that is productive?

What I took away from this conference is that working face to face is valuable when we are put in a situation that allows use to create, produce, or solve a problem. Meeting for meetings sake can be done on the web, and we can meet on the web to produce something or solve a problem, but there is a different aura that happens when you are in the physical presence of those you are working with.

In our classrooms, are we using our face to face time to truly engage students in something meaningful? Something larger than one person could create, produce, or solve on his or her own? Are we using our time to, as Chris Lehmann puts it, build wisdom?

I have a feeling this will be a recurring theme for the next couple of months as I continue to think through just what we’re doing in the classroom and how moving content outside the walls leaves room to truly do some amazing learning.