My reflections on EduBloggerCon

100_4743I’ve heard about EduBloggerCon for the past two years and have always wanted to participate because the type of people who attend seemed like “my kind of people” — and I am happy to report that I was right.

EduBloggerCon was everything I had hoped for … and more:    smart people talking about interesting topics – people who really CARE about learning, use technology and improving education.  I absolutely loved finally meeting my twitter friends face to face.  Beth Still said it best, “It’s like going to a high school reunion and seeing old friends”.  The morning of EduBloggerCon was filled with handshakes, hugs and lots of “I follow you on Twitter”.  I loved it!

The first unconference session I attended was Web 2.0 smackdown led by Vicki Davis and with Paul Wood as referree.  The time was spent with folks coming up to the mic and quickly sharing some new tool or gadget.  It was quick and fast paced – luckily – folks were twittering the links participating in a Cover It Live chat so I can go back and remember all the cool tools.

The next session was led by Mark Wagner about cool tools we wished we had.  Mark led a discussion about brainstorming ideas for tools that we could “rent a coder” to program.  They were lots of ideas of unique aggregators, assessment rubrics and so on – but one of the neat things that happened if someone suggested an idea — another person said, “oh, that already exists” and then shared the URL of that tool.  I think a lot of folks learned new things.  Mark would like to pursue the rubric idea and I am willing to help.  I already reviewed what Rubistar offers – but love the idea of an interactive rubric that sits on top of Google spreadsheets or one that sends students immediate feedback.  Great session and looking forward to learning more.

One of the most compelling discussions of the day was led by Jon Becker titled “Where School Reform Meets Madonna:  Can public schools fundamentally reinvent themselves?”  This was a thoughtful and insightful discussion about school reform and what we can personally do to improve education.  Yes, it started off with a rehash of what’s wrong with education but then quickly moved to ideas about engaging students with relevant projects, sharing models of what really works, filling the empty space with innovative projects and discussions of how 15, 16, & 17 yr old students are very ME oriented – and can they really chart their own course of how to effective use technology in school?

The next session I attend was a small group that discussed how students can use social media to effect positive social change – led by Mark Wagner.  We shared ideas of how we could engage students by using social media tools while they engage in social justice or service learning activities.  There was a strong sense that this type of “work” is very relevant and meaningful for students and as educators we should encourage more connections by using social tools or use the tools as a reflective process to think about & discuss what they are experiencing while doing service work.

Afterwards,  I had a great discussion with Wes Fryer about his Story Chasers program and how I can incorporate some of the elements of his program with a MS nursing home visitation program that is already being done in my school.  More thoughts on that later.

I showed up late for the last sessions so I just joined a group that was discussing “Social Media Policy & Practice for K-12 Districts” a Conversation with Ann Flynn,
Director, Education Technology, National School Boards Association (with Kevin Jarrett & Scott McLeod).  Even though I teach at a private school that is not governed by a school board, I still gleamed some ideas of how to get my administration on board with social media.

Overall the day was great.  We de-briefed at the end of the day and made plans for future events.  I will definitely try to make EduBloggerConNW a reality at the NCCE conference next March in Seattle.

EBC09badge3I need to thank Steve Hargadon for all of his efforts with EduBloggerCon and Adam Frey of Wikispaces for their generous hosting of the afterparty that evening.  It was great to see everyone in good spirits and having a great time.
Kevin Jarrett’s Flickr stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kjarrett/sets/72157620446666009/
Scott Merrick’s Flickr stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/optomystic/sets/72157620507710581/

Be careful what you wish for

New blogger Jon Becker lamented in his blog a few days ago

“It’s as if folks like Will Richardson, David Warlick, Wes Fryer, Vicki Davis, Dean Shareski, Stephen Downes, Chris Lehmann…(and, yes, you Scott) are having an awesome cocktail party conversation and I’m standing on the outside staring over their shoulders and listening in, trying to get a word in, but not penetrating that conversation at all. I know there are LOTS of us on the outside looking in. “

Since then, there has been flurry of activity on the blogosphere and twitter about why do we blog, technorati rankings, numbers of comments, who is our audience and the idea of an exclusive cocktail party.

Obviously it has touched a nerve of many people including some of those listed above but more importantly the questions posed asks each one of us to reflect on why DO we blog. Are we in it for the glory, the popularity, the ratings … or is it something deeper, more reflective .. personal.

I am the only computer teacher in the small high school where I teach. I loved the ongoing discussions during my Masters of Educational Technology online program at Pepperdine and longed for that type of interaction with my own staff – but honestly – only a handful were enthusiastic about technology and “spoke my language”. I have connected with other tech teachers in my area and found a home online with other educators who are also passionate about technology.

I began this blog last summer and use it to document what I am learning and share resources with my friends. I am amazed how many times I tell someone “Oh, I just blogged about that” and then show them my blog and additional resources.

I read a lot more blogs than I do actually writing. I am finding my voice and absorbing so much through Classroom 2.0, twitter, Ed Talk Talk conversations and so on.

Personally I like to meet interesting people at cocktail parties. I’d like to join more often in the conversation but for now – I am happy to just be listening and giving my input when I feel comfortable.

Thanks for the conversation Jon. It’s been interesting and I’m glad that you’ve learned a lot about yourself and blogging along the way.