Learning @Learning2

Learning @Learning2

There are different ways to measure success. Last week at the first ever Learning2 Africa conference that was held at ICS Addis Ababa, Ethiopia we measured it in a few different ways. 118 of 119 of the participants on the survey said they would recommend the conference to a friend or plan on attending next year. Before we left the conference we had a school step up wanting to host it for 2015 We had inquiries from other schools in Africa to host the conference in 2016. Now there are a lot of ways to measure success and when you get responses like this from the participants from the first ever Ed Tech specific conference on the continent you’re doing something right. It’s crazy to go back through my blog and read about this conference over the years. The things we have tried, the failures, the successes and how a little conference that was suppose to be a one off in 2007 in Shanghai, China has turned into a yearly conference that sells out in a matter of months and is slowly spreading….is well….I pinch myself. What makes this conference so successful? I believe it’s the values of the conference that we try and hold true to every year. Learning is Social: The majority of the money for the conference goes to social gatherings. At the recent Learning2 Africa conference that included taking all 150 of the participants plus committee members and presenters out to a local Ethiopian restaurant for dinner. It means finishing every night with a social event with free flow wine and beer. It means giving space during the conference for people to talk and bounce ideas off each other.  This is also why we run a “cohort” strand through the conference. An hour each day for those that teach the same subject to come together and talk about what they are learning at the conference, share resources from different sessions, and set up a way to connect even after the conference is over.  We know learning is social and so we make social a large part of the conference Learning is Participant driven: Matt Kelsey, one of this year’s Learning2Leaders in Africa, wrote a great blog post about this as he reflected on the conference. Less than half of each day’s learning is driven by the conference timetable. The 3 hour “extended session” where participants...

Read More

Learning 2.012 Reflection

Learning 2.012 Reflection

I have been home five days now from my month long around the world trip (way to long…learned my lesson on that one!) and it is time to start writing down some of the things I was involved in, witnessed and helped to push forward in schools from Europe to Africa to the islands of Indonesia. But first I want to start with, what is still shocking to me, probably the best conference I get to attend. The Learning 2.012 conference that takes place in Asia every year. A conference that I helped to start back in 2007 and that continues, in my book anyway, to push the boundries of how conference formats need to change with what we understand to be good learning and good use of our time together. Learning2 when we started it back in 2007 was founded on a couple simple principles. Be different Be social Be a connector Push participants and our own understanding of learning Be Different Since this conference was founded never has there been a repeat of what the schedule looks like. Each year the orginzing committee has the option to start with a clean slate. Do something different, do something radical, try something new….and every year they do. Some thing work and some thing don’t work but you know what…we call that learning and that’s what Learning 2 is all about. Learning 2 was started, and is still seen, as a technology conference. But every year as people write reflective blog posts about their experience the shock is always; this is a conference about learning and technology just happens to be a part of it. Even in my session this year when I had people brainstorm in groups on what they believed “Flipped Education” was on a piece of chart paper with markers, I got looks. Yet this technology in a group setting is a perfect fit. Actually….I’m not really interested in the product (the paper) but the process of people talking, of coming to an understanding together. That’s what a conference is about. Be Social That leads me to the most important part of this conference. The idea that learning is social. I say it as often as I can that if you are going to a conference for content you are going for the wrong reason. Content is free and open, connections are not. This conference has some...

Read More

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...

Read More

Reflections on Learning 2.010

Learning 2.010 ended last Saturday and four days after the end of the conference I think I’ve recovered enough mentally to actually talk about my experience. This is the 3rd Learning 2 Conference that I have helped to organize and pull off with no less than 20 other educators from in and around Shanghai. Putting on a conference is a lot of work…and only after you’ve done it can you really know how mentally exhausting the time is during the conference. What I love about this conference is each year we focus on breaking the conference mold and giving educators new ways to think about learning not only through the content of the conference but the conference structure itself. We talk about the teacher needing to be a facilitator in the classroom, so this year we had no “teacher”. There was no keynote, no presenters just facilitators. I think we did a very good job of finding both international talent and flying in facilitators that understood what we were going for in this conference. You had to be flexible, wiling to adapt, and easy going in order to change as this conference progressed. Find another conference that 24 hours before it was to begin nothing was planned. Not one session, not one cohort…nothing. Yet some how when you allow yourself the ultimate flexibility to adapt and change, some of the best learning occurs. We started planning this conference with the notion that we can not foresee and meet the needs of 400+ participants without knowing what they want to learn. By using facilitators and the cohort/unconference model we were able to adapt and create sessions on the fly that hopefully met the needs of everyone at the conference in one way or another. I had a couple people approach me and tell me how great it was to actually attend a conference were you had to be activity involved. If you were not giving feedback to the facilitator in your cohort, or if you were not actively creating, leading or voting for unconference sessions you were out of luck. Participants were energized by the conversations and the flexibility to learn what they wanted to learn. I believe the best of this came out in unconference sessions around Prezi. Prezi was the hot tool of the conference and because of our unconference model it kept getting voted in for sessions....

Read More

Learning 2.010 Conference: Where do we go from here?

In a world where content is continually changing, and you can learn almost anything for free, what’s the point of going to a conference? This is the question we started with in designing your Learning 2.010 Conference experience. The content is free and easy. If you want to learn how to use Facebook in your classroom, a simple search on Google will bring you back many hits on how teachers are finding ways of using it. But what if you wanted to actually talk with those teachers? What if you wanted to pick their brains, sit and have coffee with them and bounce ideas around? Sure we have Skype, Remote Desktop Applications, and even iChat, but there is still something about sitting  down with a fellow educator and having a conversation around topics that you are both interested in. That is what we hope Learning 2.010 is for you. A conference not built on content, but on having conversations! Learning 2.010 has two parts to it. Cohorts of learners and Unconference conversations. Cohorts of Learners: Our idea is this: Let’s bring together educators from around the world to have conversations around a given topic. Let’s give them time to sit together, to brainstorm, hypothesize, and then create some sort of artifact that we can all learn from. Let’s help build Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) by having educators spend time together face to face discussing big educational ideas and then go away with new friendships and networks they can continue to grow and use after the conference. Let’s not go out looking for the best presenters we can find and afford but the best facilitators of conversations. Those that question the educational world we now live and and strive to help us all become better for tomorrow. Lastly, we leave to many conference with nothing to take with us. We get back on our planes or trains and we walk away with no hard artifacts to remember our thinking, or ideas. What if we challenged each cohort to have conversations and than leave artifacts of those conversations behind for all of us to use? This is our hope for the cohort sessions. That each participant will be able to find and join a cohort that interests them and have deep meaningful conversations with 19 other educators who feel the same. Will it work? We hope, but your participation will be...

Read More