Educon 2.2 Wrap Up

Okay, let’s conclude my notes about Educon 2.2.

School Policy Panel Discussion: I listed to some, but the parts I heard were very general– “we all make policies all the time” sort of thing. I won’t comment more, since I switched to working online.

Invitation to Inquiry: This was a relatively fun session, because different groups got different inquiry materials for a project design. We had science, and articles about the earthquakes in California and Haiti. Members of my group did a great job of discussing different inquiry project designs for the material. My only wish was that the leaders were a little clearer about scaffolding inquiry learning. How much focusing do students need to stay on topic? For example, our content could have been used for social/political inquiry projects, but could you allow that to happen in the same classroom (and probably not if you are a science teacher).

Lunch Meeting:
fun discussion with an open source developer and planner. We shared a lot of views about truths and misconceptions about open source software for schools. Perhaps like Veracross, the goal of open source is to become a service more than a product. Getting started may be “free” in a few respects, but sustainability is only achieved with support (for both upgrades, modifications, new modules and new ideas). It is fun to think of multi-school collaborations for new open source modules or tools– curriculum mapping for Drupal or Moodle, anyone? (I should also note that Zimbra benefits from an open source version and community, and a paid-support contract.)

On the Development of Learning Spaces: it was fun to hear David Jakes leads conversations and share ideas about changing physical learning spaces, and actively integrating virtual learning spaces with the physical. Some basic ideas: move your desks into a fish-bowl design (inner facing circle inside a larger inner facing circle of desks). Bring in floor lamps from Oxfam, Goodwill or Walmart, and turn off the in-ceiling fluorescent lights. In fact, in one classroom he removed all the ceiling tiles and went for an industrial look, changing the eye lines of his students by raising the ceiling by four feet (and then using that space creatively). Ask the students what they think should be changed. Create a Genius Bar for the school. Create a Starbucks space in the library. I need to get the book he referenced: Learning Space Design. I also liked how Jakes was using Etherpad.

After that session, I took public transport to the Philadelphia airport (getting there far too quickly) and then flew over the Atlantic, over-night. I’ll be processing more ideas from Educon over the next few days, and I may post a bit more. Good conversational conference– my main request would be for a bit more focus instead of too many major ideas mixed together too briefly.

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