Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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BLC11

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bostonThe end of BLC means the end of my summer is right around the corner. A couple days before I step on a plane to head back to Bangkok, and my thoughts return to all the educators I’ve been able to interact with this summer.

No matter the conference, the session, the keynote, educators seem to quickly get overwhelmed with information and possibilities. Not that I blame them…there’s a lot of sessions on a load of different tools, ideas, theories, and just plain cool stuff! Add on top of that all the resources for all the sessions and anyone would quickly become overwhelemed.

The problem is once overwhelemed the brain stops processing information, you stop learning, and things go down hill from there.

Part of it is the schedule of conferences. Funny how we continue to talk about schools changing yet most conferences continue to look very much the same as they did __ years ago (I’ll let you fill in the date).

We know we need time to process information and we tell ourselves during the conference that we’ll take time to reflect once the conference is over, but the reality is very few people actually do. You get on your plane, you get back to life and the notes from the sessions, the resources, are left for “another day”.

What if we started building time into conferences to reflect? What if…..much like we talk about in schools….we cut back on the content….and up the learning…the depth, the idea generation. What if instead of 10 sessions there were 5?

What if we cut half the sessions and then added “Reflection, Unconference, Conversation” sessions throughout the conference to build in the time to process, reflect, and go deep in new learning during the conference itself? What if we made conversations the focus not the content (My EQ for my session: How do we make the most of our time face to face when content is free and avalible to all?).

This has always been the focus of the Learning 2.00x conference that I helped to start in Shanghai and continues. Each year the best feedback we get is “don’t stop the conversations”.

We educators need to feel OK with taking time to stop, reflect, and allow our brians to be silent. Allow our brains to process the information.

Run Keeper in BostonOn Thursday at BLC I started feeling the anxiouty catching up to me. New links, new things to think about, and feedback on my own sessions had pushed me to the edge. So I skipped a session and went for a 5 mile run along the Charles River….the best 40 minutes of the whole conference was that run.

It wasn’t the run itself (although it felt good to leave the hotel) but it was the thoughts and ideas that were flying through my head….I didn’t want to stop running…I was processing, thinking, and preparing my next steps. My brain needed the rest, needed the time. When I got back to the conference I just felt better, more relaxed, more focused and energized.

Do we give ourselves permission to reflect? Do we give ourselves time to play?  If not we leave conferences not knowing where to start.

Yes, we tell ourselves we’ll do it later, we’ll “get to it” but how many times do we actually get to it? Can we build time into the conference schedule to allow people to reflect, to use that valuble time with others thinking and learning with us in a very productive way? Can we use the time at conferences to make global connections, meet each other face to face? Can a conference help facilitate us to step out of our comfort zone and have a conversation with someone new?

Maybe I’m way off….maybe this isn’t a good use of school conference time. Maybe we’re suppose to be professional enough to reflect on our own time, to process on our own time?

I’m not sure if this is the right answer, but it kills me when I’m presenting the last session on the last day and I have conversations with more then a few educators who are saying “I don’t know where to start”, “There’s to much to do”, or worse yet just break down and cry because they’re so overloaded and feel like they had to go to every session, use every moment to it’s fullest poteintal and for some reason we view that as being in sessions and not by ourselves in deep reflection.

I just hope we all give ourselves permission to reflect at conferences, during the school day, throughout life. Reflection is a very important part of learning…and we need to give ourselves permission to do it more often.

Starting to awake from my summer slumber and getting back into things. I find myself once again somewhere over Montana on my way to Alan November’s BLC Conference in Boston. This will be my 3rd year presenting at BLC and its timing always marks the end of my summer vacation.

A couple weeks ago though I spend four days in Memphis at the laptop Institute conference put on by Lausanne Collegiate School. A fantastic conference with a clear mission.

studentipad
by Flickr ID: flickingerbrad

What I liked most about the Laptop Institute is the question about students having a computer, having a connection is a non-issue. Everyone at this conference believes that every students should have a computer. It was great to talk to schools who where already 1:1 and to schools who were in the process of getting there. Everyone though….on the same page, making it fun to talk about pedagogy, tools, and ideas.

My keynote and sessions were all video taped. I’ve embedded the keynote below and you can watch the other sessions if you would like at this link.

I was also excited to see schools bringing teams of teachers to the conference. Very few people were there alone and some smaller private schools brought their whole staff. A great PD/staff bonding trip.

There were a few international schools at the conference as well. American School of Bombay who also puts on their own Laptop Institute called ASB Unplugged every other year, brought their new hires to the conference and even ran an all day pre-conference for their new hires to get them up to speed on what to expect and what is expected of them at their new school. What a fantastic idea!

As someone who has to try and train teachers on the technologies at a new school while at the same time new teachers are trying to settle into a new country, find their classroom, and everything else that comes with a new job, I like ASB’s approach as it also shows the new hires that technology is taken seriously at the school from day one.

I would recommend the Laptop Institute to any school who is already 1:1 or is preparing to go there. It’s a great place to network with others who have been through the roll-out process, who are using different tools, and what works and what doesn’t. The best part is you soon find out there are all sorts of ways to go 1:1 and not one right way to do it. Know your community, know your school and going 1:1 can be a great experience!

seattle
SunSet from Condo in seattle

Yawn…..stretch…..and slowly pulling myself back into the real world after almost three weeks of vacation that included little time on the computer and a lot of time with friends and family. The way holidays should be.

The big technology gift this year actually went to my wife. Her sister bought her the new Kindle which is perfect for her. She lugged 5 books home for vacation…now all of those will fit in this tiny little device. 

So the new year is off to a great start. Flight back to Bangkok was uneventful (which is a good thing when flying) and I’m all set for the next two weeks and my reverse instruction experiment that I blogged about here. I actually have 6 teachers that I’ll be working with over the next two weeks. You’ll be seeing a lot of blog posts reflecting on how this is going.

If you haven’t actually been to the site in awhile you might want to stop by and check out the new look. The home page is my favorite pulling in the lasted Tweeted articles from the blog. Thanks to Alec and the team at Folliovision for helping to design the new site. Have a look around and see what you think. Still working on a few sidebar and menu options but for the most part, this will be the look for 2011.

Free Stuff

The real reason why you clicked on this post. 🙂

RunKeeper Pro free through January 

runkeeper
 

My wife and I have been into running these past few months and I have to say that this iPhone / Android App has gone a long way in keeping us motivated. RunKeeper uses the GPS on your smartphone to plot how far, fast and the pace of your run. It then uploads the data to the RunKeeper website where you can keep track of how you’re doing. My wife loves the cute little e-mails she gets when she has hit a new goal such as “Longest Distance”, or “Best Time”, or “Best Month”. She also loves the fact she can see right away how far she ran and view the route on her phone (HTC Desire, OS Android).

Of course I like the geekier site of the app. The ability to share your run on Facebook or Twitter as soon as you finish, and with the Pro version (Free through January) you can connect to a playlist on your iPhone and have it give you verbal cues when you’ve ran a certain distance or time. On the website you can create a “Street Team” or running partners to keep you motivated…..a great social-networking feature!

I know a lot of people set new workout goals for themselves in the new year (me included) and thought I’d throw this out there as a way to make running, walking, or whatever your activity a little more fun!

Link to Android App
Link to iTunes iPhone App  

Win a Free iPad

itsc 2011 logo 300x64

In February I’ll be flying to Portland and presenting at the ISTC 2011 conference in Portland, OR. One of the best education technology conferences in the Northwest and I am always grateful for the opportunity to go back to the Pacific Northwest to talk with educators in my “homeland”.

This year the conference is giving away 5 iPads! The crazy part is you don’t even have to register for the conference to be in the running to get one. They’ve already given away two so you have a chance to win one of the final three. The game is pretty simple. Enter to win an iPad by following these directions:

  1. Follow @itscpdx on Twitter
  2. Tweet the “message of the day” each day to enter that week’s drawing
  3. One (1) tweet, each day, gets you one entry into that week’s contest.
  4. Enter up to five (5) times for each week’s drawing by tweeting each message of the day, Monday through Friday.
  5. Tweeting more than once a day does not increase your chances of winning.

Complete Rules Here

It’s going to be a great conference so if you’re in the area join us!  

$25 Off BLC 11

blc11 150x53OK….so not free but a discount on my favorite conference of the summer. I don’t know how Alan November and his team do it but every year they have by far the best keynote presenters of any conference I’ve gone to….and the Keynoters are just the start. I love everything about this conference. The location, the size (right around 1000 people), the passion of the participants. I’m excited that I’ve been invited back for a third year to this conference and as a token for reading this blog you can save $25 when you register. Just enter the discount code JUBLC11 and you’ll be credited the discount. 

If you’re looking for one conference to go to this summer…this is the one!

Looking forward to a great 2011 and we’ll see where education takes us this year!