EARCOS Admin Tech Cohort – Reflection

Back at work and reflecting on the tech cohort that I tried to run at the EARCOS Admin Conference. I talked about it here and what my hopes were for the group. It’s the first time I’ve tried to embedd a cohort in a traditional conference model and to be honest I had very limited success. We met as a cohort during the first session. I was excited to meet the 33 admin who had signed up ahead of time to be apart of the project. During the first session we had 50+ people in the room. I was really excited as people just kept coming into the room asking if they could join. But it was all down hill from there. Our first session went really well, people were excited and we got them thinking about the skills a worker needed today by having them in groups find answers to these real world scenarios. On the second day we had about 15 people show up for the cohort reflection….a huge drop from the 50+ the day before. I can make all kinds of excuses of why people maybe did not show up, but at the end of the day they just didn’t. On the third and final day we had 7 people show up for the cohort reflection session. Our discussions were great as we covered everything from 1:1 laptop programs to new and cool tools on the Internet. There were some successes though. The blog I set up really did become a place to house thinking, presentations and links to resources coming out of sessions. The greatest take away for me and most administrators I talked to was the use of the chat rooms I set up for back channel conversations. It was very interesting as we used a chat room during two of the keynotes. During the first keynote the chat room was very active, and very off topic. Someone would throw a one-liner into the chat and we’d all head down a rat hole. It was great fun….and if you ask me what the speakers overall message was I couldn’t tell you. I was not at all engaged in the presentation. The chat room was much more engaging….even if it was off task. We talked after the first keynote and I had many come up to me and say how much fun that was and...

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Changing Conference Models

In a weeks time I’ll be in Manila, Philippines to attend the EARCSO Administrators Conference. This will be the third year I’ve presented at the conference…guess it a good thing they invite me back every year. 🙂 This year though I’m trying something different. With the permission of the head of EARCOS. I asked if I could set up a cohort of administrators who might want to go deep in learning about leadership in a digital world. Of course I didn’t even know at the time if any administrators in the region would want to do such a thing. Imagine being stuck learning with me for three full days….who would put themselves through that? In the end I was given permission to send out an e-mail to the administrators in the EARCOS region (about 100 international schools total). If I could get 20 administrators to say they would like to try a cohort model of learning that was embedded within the conference schedule I could trail this concept and see how it goes. Within a week we had 25 people and ended up with a total of 33 administrators from Heads of Schools to Principals, IT Directors, and VPs. Needless to say I am very impressed! So the concept is this: During the first session we’ll meet as a cohort for 90 minutes and do some investigating and hands-on computer work to frame our thinking for the conference. Then the cohort will be able to choose between two technology learning focused sessions to attend. After attending three sessions we will meet again to debrief our learning, reflect, and discuss what we’re thinking and how what we learn can be used in our schools when we leave the conference. We’ll follow this same format all three days. I’ve been working with Andy Torris on this, my good friend and Deputy Superintendent of Shanghai America School. This year Andy and the IT team have rolled out some 1500+ laptops as they start their 1:1 program in grades 6-12. Andy also has more experience running PD sessions with administrators, making us a good team to lead this first cohort. Andy and I were talking about how to engage the administrators in the conference, and have decided that what we want to do is give them options on how they can be active participants during sessions and the conference. With that idea in...

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