Educon 2.2 Update

Here’s some observations so far from Educon 2.2

“What is Smart” Panel discussion: many attendees felt that the discussion was too broad and focused too much on trying to decide what “smart” meant. Some general ideas about areas of affinity, finding a passion, differentiated learning, inquiry-based learning, project-based learning and memorization were tossed in, but the conversation seemed to go in a lot of directions at once. Last year’s topic about “what is a school” sounded more interesting.

Friday Night Independent School get-together: Great people, but the Public House music was way too loud and it was hard to have conversations even in the private room. Leaving the place, the music was almost making people bounce out of chairs…

Many to Many Session: I greatly enjoyed the conversations and points brought up, and I hope the Prezi I had didn’t take too long to get through. There was some debate about open source– the ideas behind it should be part of what we define digital citizenship to be (doing things for love, collaboration, contributing to many helping many) and there are open source solutions schools should consider (as we use Moodle and Zimnbra, and others use Drupal and more). There was also very good conversation about social networking initiatives that have failed (bulletin boards, wikis, threaded discussions, more). As Shirky notes, we have to be careful about the Promise, the Tool and the Bargain. If one fails, the project fails. Also, scaffolding is needed to push contribution and collaboration– it does not happen automatically out of the goodness of the hearts of users.

Managing your digital lifestyle session: Wow, that was a group of serious list-makers, calendar makers, tweeters, Evernote users, Google Apps users, etc. I actually felt a little left brained in the session, because I don’t use 800 tools to help organize myself or tweet my life or Facebook my family. (Not that I don’t have a blog, a twitter account, photo galleries online). I am much less connected than some– which is okay by me! One tool that was recommend, and I intend to look into, is Evernote.

Leadership 2.0 by Chris Lehmann of the Science Leadership Academy (hosting school). Chris has a great personality and can definitely talk to teachers. Hearing more about the story of the creation of SLA over the last four years was very good, as well as hearing about the cross disciplinary Inquiry philosophy they have, and the creation of a Caring Community. All good stuff, but again a bit scattered. So many topics (tech, inquiry, caring, collaborative decision-making) were handled at once. I would have enjoyed a little more focus on the changes in leadership that all schools are considering or engaged in as a new generation of administrators step up to the challenge.

Last night I took myself on a walk downtown to Rittenhouse Square. It was snowing and 17 degrees, but it was great to walk by the places where I once taught night courses to adults for Temple University. That was a good time, back in the late 1980s.

Okay, time to participate in an Inquiry session.

Live from Educon 2.2

So far, I’ve survied the trip to Philadelphia, survived the “What is Smart” Panel discussion, had a great time with a group of ISED-L types at dinner last night, and now I have the final version of my Prezi done for my “Many to Many” conversation this morning at 10:00:

Now, for six blocks of 20 degree weather to walk to the converfence area.

Doing a Prezi for Educon 2.2 Conversation

Okay, I’m using Prezi for the first time to create an opening presentation for a conversation at Educon 2.2. Here’s a link to draft six:

Earlier drafts are linked at that URL. This draft is about 80 percent done. Feel free to comment.
Draft Six Prezi for Educon 2.2

I only learned about Prezi at a conference presentation last Friday by a colleague. I’m ready for a break from PowerPoint, and I also like how Prezi is a combination of Mind Mapping and Presentation.

Opening of a children’s novel

My parents died in an Alpine climbing accident when I was eleven.

They were in the bathroom of our flat in Hampstead, shaving and showering for another day of work, when Alpine climbers fell out of a plane that had recently taken off from Stansted Airport en route to the Eiger. The climbers crashed through the roof, landing on my mom and dad, who where killed instantly. The climbers apologized, brushed off plaster dust, picked up their gear, and called a cab to return to Stansted for the next flight to the Eiger.

So began the adventure of my childhood in which I alone would face great challenges and learn great things, parent-free.

Dad, I want a lecture course…

We had a teaching friend over to dinner last night, so I thought it would be a good time to pounce on my 12 year-old son with an observation.

“So, son, I noticed that now that you can choose one elective per semester in seventh grade, your first choice this year was more of a lecture course, and so was your second. You didn’t get your first choice for the second semester, and you don’t seem overly happy about doing video film making.”

“Yeah, dad, I wanted the other course. it was a lecture course– you know, one where I could just sit back and listen to someone talk who knows something, and not have to be making stuff, or collaborating, or having to state opinions and ideas…”

This made us crack up. Here’s my poor son, surrounded by teaching adults at the dinner table who have pretty much devoted their lives to increasing student choice in the classroom, differentiated learning, hands-on activities, challenging discussions, collaboration, and the rest. In response, he says he wants a break from almost all of that, for a change.

Oh, boy. We talk about listening to kids, but when we do… :)

Student Information System Migration

Our week in Boston with Veracross went well, and we are now steaming through a very important stage of the migration. Our database manager is carefully going through each Filemaker Pro file, scripting as export that only removes columns of data (not calculations) and then documenting the columns of information after each export. We are also dropping unusued data as we progress.

By 1 February, we should have exported data from all files, scripts to do it again at the start of July (after the yearly rollover) and documentation for all data sets. When the final export comes, we will just run the scripts again. In February, we turn over all of the data to Veracross, so they can start building the black boxes to import it into Veracross, create alignment of their systems with our data, and then start working with us on interfaces and printed reports.

This is a big process, and we will have many modules coming online at once, but I hope the work we are doing now will make the data as clear as possible for the Veracross engineers.


I’m on the train to Portsmouth to visit our boat. All this snow is wonderful to see.

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