Random Thoughts

Learning 2.008: No Stage, just conversations

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1. Before someone talks you into creating/organizing/hosting a conference make sure you’re prepared for the work ahead.

2. Once you are prepared for the work, double the time you think it will take, multiple that by two, and then you might be close.

3. Always remember you are doing this to better education (or educators) or so you hope.


It’s the day before the conference starts and big thanks to my Principal and ISB for giving me the week off to be here in Shanghai to finish planning for the conference. I really don’t know how I would have done it otherwise.

There are about 6 main organizer and then about another 6 helping us out on the ground. We have a total of about 550 people coming if we include everyone even the 60+ middle school and high school students who will be helping out with tech support.

It’s been a crazy conference and at the last planning meeting we found ourselves about 100 people over what we were expecting.

We started looking for more presenters and before I knew what had happened, everyone was looking at me.

Hence I’m now doing three presentations. If that’s not bad enough they’ve put me in the same sessions with the rest of our invited guess (OK, I did have some say in that part).

Now, it’s an honor to be considered to present along with the invited guests, and at the same time trying to organize and present at the same conference is not recommended.

But here I find myself the day before the conference scrambling to create/remix some presentations.

I’m doing three:

I just love this picture of my opening talk on why we’re thinking differently. It’s a talk/discussion on the theory behind what is pushing us into this new way of learning. It’s based a lot on George Siemen’s work (who was suppose to be here but couldn’t make it). Educators seem to like it as it gives them a frame to try and understand that we (technology people) are not just pushing this stuff because we like it, but because it’s our world today.

My other two presentations are down and dirty stuff that educators can take with them.

From Print to Digital: Learning to Write for the Web

10 Digital Tools for Digital Educators

I’m really excited about the 10 Digital Tools presentation. Our presentation times are only 45 minutes long. This session looks to introduce 10 tools, and then allow educators to use the 7 unconference sessions to learn more about the tools they might find helpful in their classrooms.

Many people have commented on the 45 minute time slots as not being enough time. As presenters I think when you are at a conference like this that honors conversations over presentations you have to rethink what it means and how you engage people. Use the unconference times to extend your thinking. Hit them with something hard and deep, and then take the 5 hours we give you to engage in conversations around your presentation.

Yes it’s short, but we are not looking for a sage on the stage, we’re looking for facilitators of thought and learning.

It’s a switch. It’s the same switch we have asked teacher to make, and now as a conference we’re asking conference goers and presenters to make that switch as well.

This is all “Beta” of course, but that’s what teaching and learning is suppose to be in this day in age right? We don’t have all the answers, heck this whole conference format might not work, but then again………

Ready or not……it’s time to change!

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Pingback: SchoolFinder Blog: Business model for Education

  2. I saw in the opening ustream of the conference where you were explaining how attendees should go on the ning to take notes for the presentations. I have never seen this done so I don’t know if it is a new idea, but what a powerful idea! Those of us benefitting from afar were able to gain so much.

    I can barely keep up with FOLLOWING all you do Jeff, I don’t know how you actually do it all! 🙂 Thanks for the post!

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