GAFE Summit: A Must Attend Event

GAFE Summit: A Must Attend Event

It is day two here in San Jose at the California GAFE (Google Apps For Education) Summit. What a great summit for educators working at schools that have or are about to adopt Google Apps.  Mark Wagner and team have put together a great event. With 70% of the participants new to Google Apps many of the sessions are focused on getting educators started with a sprinkling of real geekiness for those advance users. Of course being just a few miles away from Google Headquarters gives this summit a little extra something special with keynote from Jaime Casap and Dan Russell. The pressure is definitely on for my keynote next weekend at the Great Plains Google Summit.  There’s a couple reasons why I think these events are and will continue to be successful. There are simple things that anyone planning a conference needs to think about. Size Matters: The more conferences I attend the more I am loving conferences that are between 400-600 people. It’s such a great size for discussions, for networking and for sessions. When planning your conference think about the size you want. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. A small group of passionate people can do a lot for the culture of a conference. We could have easily expand the Learning 2.0 conference to be much bigger but that was never our purpose. We want a nice group of passionate people to come and learn from each other. For me these are the ultimate size conferences.  Trained Speakers: Every speaker at the GAFE Summit is either a Google Certified Teacher or a Google Apps Certified Trainer. If you’re going to run a conference around a specific set of tools why not get people who are passionate about those tools to do the sessions? That’s what the Ed Tech Team has done and it has worked out well. Keynotes That Know How to Lecture: See my last blog post. Keynotes go a long way in setting the tone for the day of the conference. If you are going to have a keynote make sure you get a good one. Someone who understands what their job is and is able to make people laugh, cry and motivate them to learn. Or in Dan Russell’s case today, make you realize just how much you still have to learn and then….go learn it.    In the end if you use...

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Learning 2.012 Early Bird Registration Ends Soon

Learning 2.012 Early Bird Registration Ends Soon

    Excited to see the Learning 2.012 conference is filling up fast. The conference that I helped to start back in 2007 continues to explore the meaning of what it means to be a modern day conference. Every year the committee plays with different formats and different ways to get participants involved in the learning process. The one thing this conference has never had is a keynote speaker with the committee always trying to find ways to get participants involved in the learning process. For Learning 2.012 in October the breakdown of sessions looks like this: Two Extended Sessions led by Learning 2 Leaders (3 – 3.5 hours) One Learning 2 Leaders presentation: the big idea in a nutshell Two additional workshops or presentations Two ‘unconference’ sessions Three ‘cohort’ sessions in curriculum/common interest groupings Three sets of Learning 2 Talk sessions You’ll also want to check out the website and have a look at this years Learning Leaders. The conference continues to attract some of the best in the field and within International Education.  I’m honored that after stepping down as a main conference organizer two years ago that the committee has asked me to stay involved and has again invited me back to be a learning leader. It is one of my favorite conferences to attend and be apart of for no other reason in that it’s just different from any other conference I’ve been to. The Early Bird Registration ends this Friday (June 1st). If you haven’t registered already you might want to head on over and get registered quickly. After June 1st it will cost you an extra $50. I wouldn’t be so worried about the extra $50 as I would be that the conference will fill up. It’s limited to 500 participants. Have you been to Learning 2.0 in the past? What have been your take aways from the conference? If you are going in October what is it your looking forward to the...

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Learning 2.011: Let’s do it again!

    Although I’m officially retired from the planning committee this year…..I’ve been honored as being invited as a speaker and cohort leader for next year’s Learning 2.011 conference. We learned a lot last year about using the cohort model along with the unconference approach and this year the organizers are once again pushing to redefine what it means to be a conference. That’s what I love about this conference, it’s created by educators that are looking to get out of the box, do things different and meet the needs of the 400 people who are lucky to attend.  One great thing about holding this conference in China is presenters and cohort leaders love a free trip to China…that’s something you don’t get the chance at everyday and over the years we’ve been fortunate enough to continue to attract great cohort leaders and this year will be no different! Year after year cohort leaders tell us this is one of the most switched on group of educators they get a chance to interact with. To listen to last year’s cohort leaders debrief stop by Wes Fryer’s blog where he’s posted a podcast of last years debrief with cohort leaders to get a feel of the conference and what to expect.  Last year the conference sold out by July so you are gonna want to register early for this...

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Becoming an Active Learner

Just wrapping up from ITSC11 in Portland and a previous conference send me a link to a survey from participants. This one frustrated me a bit: Here’s the thing…first of all I’m never going to run a session that goes “Click here, now click here, now type here” I’m sorry, that’s not my style and if that is the reason your coming to a session at a conference then you’re telling me you are not an active motivated learner. That’s as bad as kids coming into our classrooms and saying “I don’t want to think, just tell me what to do, what to learn so I can learn it.” Learners take responsibility for their learning and me telling you to click here, then click here isn’t going to help you learn it because the learning is out of context anyway. How many times have you had previous show you how to do something only to go to do it a couple days later and not remember? Learning does not happen if there is no context for the learning to take place. I think the other thing that bothers me about these comments (this isn’t the first, and I’m sure not the last) is in every presentation I start by giving everyone permission to be off task and do what they need to do as a learner. If you want to click, go click, go learn. I never expect you to listen, or be active with what I’m saying. If what I’m saying isn’t motivating you, isn’t pushing you, isn’t what you need as a learner then that’s my fault not yours and go be off task.  On the other end of the spectrum of course you have educators like intrepidteacher in this reflective blog post about a resent conference who is frustrated that many sessions are still doing the click here, then click here type workshops. So here it is: If you are looking for a presentation that is all about the tool and has nothing to do with the pedagogy or how and why you would use it…I’m not your man. If you want a presentation where people just sit and get and don’t want to take responsibility for their own learning….I’m not your man. That doesn’t mean we won’t “play” or “dabble” with technology. At ITSC we played with blogs for 2 hours, but people were free...

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A 5 country brain dump

I find myself sitting here in Kota Kinabaul, Malaysisa reflecting on what has been a 5 country, I don’t know how many presentation, month. From Bahrain to Iowa with Asia and Australia in between, it’s been an amazing month of travel and I find myself thinking and reflecting on all I’ve been talking about and learning along the way. So here’s my brain dump of themes that keep emerging for me: The future is mobile Whether in the heartland of America, or the deserts of the Middle East and Africa, moble phones are the future of connectivity. We’re also seeing this with Apple’s iPad and the ability to connect to a 3G connection. My guess….every mobile device in 3 years will have the built in ability to connect via a celluar network. We’re already doing this, but it will just become part of the hardware of every mobile device. What this will do to/for places like Africa and a large part of the developing word I can only imagine…….but it excites me. Society expects us to be connected I’ve been preaching this everywhere this month as it came out of the TED Talk I did back in September. i think we need to stop making excuses for all of us spending to much time connected and just realize this is now the world we live in. Once we own this fact then we can start having some deep discussions around how do we teach in this new society, how do we communicate, and how do we live in a world that is constantly connected? We continue to have conversations about being “balanced” and I agree that we need to find ways to get off the computer and get reconnected with nature. But balance in the term of 50/50 is not going to happen and it hasn’t been that way for a long time. TVs are in our homes, gaming systems have been around now for 30 years, and we all have a cell phone or soon will. We are now in a time where being connected is the norm and being disconnected is not. We need to make this shift in our thinking. We need to consiously think about disconnecting, taking trips with no connective devices, which goes again societies rules right now and that’s what makes it difficult. A goal of every family should be to take 1...

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