Educon 2.2 is something of an un-conference. Instead of presentations, facilitators lead conversations. The conference is hosted at the Science Leadership Academy,
a public charter school in Philadelphia, led by Chris Lehmann. Over
500 educators from primary and secondary schools, a handful of school
administrators and higher education professionals attended. Largely,
this group self-selects. Many pay their own way, all give up a weekend
to be there. It's one of the best educational gatherings that I've had
a chance to participate in.
My head is still spinning, but
I'm going to highlight three areas: 1) the overall participatory
environment at SLA and the conference 2) Jeff Han on Multi-touch
interaction experiments and finally, 3) a conversation that I
facilitated about online teaching and learning.
managed all of the logistics from tech support, to checking bags to
helping people find sessions. They also joined sessions and shared
their experiences. That students were central to the conference
permeated all of the sessions and made the experience authentic in a
way that few conferences are. Chris Lehmann spoke about how he and his
colleagues create this community on a session he facilitated about
leadership. I'm a bit in awe of Chris–it's great to hear about it AND
see it in action at SLA.
2) Jeff Han presented Pixel Perfect, a spin off of his "multi-touch interaction research."
More on Jeff and his work here: http://cs.nyu.edu/~jhan/ftirtouch/index.html
Jeff was eager to hear from us about how we could imagine the data
visualization tool used in education. It's worth looking at the videos
of Jeff showing how the touch screen works–but it feels like something
out of a movie, where instead of interacting through a keyboard we
manipulate data with our hands. At a glance, one might think, oh, it's
an interactive whiteboard–but it's much, much more than that. Many
people can be on the board at the same time, it's as sensitive as an
iPad's touch screen and it's wicked fast. Jeff argues that we have
plenty of processing power, but that we're not making enough advances
from the interface side. He also envisions a day when the technology
is as cheap and ubiquitous as wall paper. From an educational use
perspective, we imagined ideas for collaborative writing projects,
virtual dissections and geographic analysis, but somehow I wished that
we picked a few specific curricular contexts and started with
educational goals. Nevertheless, it was an amazing conversation.
3) I facilitated a conversation on online teaching and learning best practices.
I was struck by the deep and broad interest in online learning as a
means of both student engagement and continued professional development
for educators. Barbara Treacy, the Director of EdTech Leaders Online,
a capacity building program for K-12 organizations, among other
educators, joined in the conversation, along with other teachers who
are designing educational experiences. Barbara posted their checklist for educators designing their own online courses as well as basic tips for online facilitation. Sean Musselman posted a podcast summarizing the session.
would like to thank all of my peers at Educon for making it such a
wonderful event, to Chris Lehmann, and the teachers, students and
parents at SLA and of course, Kristen Sosulski and the NYU-SCPS for
giving me something to talk about.