I just wrapped up my first trip to Educon in Philadelphia. After learning about it last year and seeing the tweets and blog posts raving about it, I knew it was a place I had to be. Educon refers to itself as an education conference, "not a technology conference." Looking at the list of attendees, it's a who's who of educational technology. I joked at supper one night that I felt like I was at a high school party thrown by the cool kids and happy I hadn't been sent home...yet.
Educon lived up to all my expectations. I didn't sit in presentations...I participated in conversations. We heard the story on Twitter and it was mentioned a couple times here that on Thursday the power had gone out at Science Leadership Academy (SLA), where Educon is held. While talking with co-chair and SLA teacher Diana Laufenberg on Saturday night, she said that someone had brought up "What happens if the power goes out this weekend?" The answer: We open the shades and everything moves forward as planned. Oh yeah, the visuals may be missed, but no session I sat in was based off of what's on the screen (OK, full disclosure, there was one, but I've deleted it from the list below and am not counting it in my assessment/reflection of Educon). All sessions are based off of participant conversations and sharing. And the best part? It wasn't ALL a complaint session. In the first session, it began that way, but one of the participants spoke up and said, "I would rather hear what you are doing to change." Brilliant. In the last session I attended, we discussed barriers and constraints...and then how we beat those (look for continuing updates here). You do have to understand what the negatives are before you turn them into positives.
Someone brought up a great point in our last group - We talk so much about failures. Why don't we talk about experiences? We need to accept failure and learn from it, something that is frowned upon in education (as mentioned in multiple sessions). But more than learning from our failures, we need to learn from our experiences. I personally feel that the slight change of tone makes a huge difference when presenting to a skeptical audience.
I've learned from my experience at Educon that I'm not alone and there are easily-accessible people waiting and willing to help. It was also relieving to know that we are doing very good things in our district. We aren't on the cutting edge, but we do have teachers that understand the power of technology when used properly. We have supportive staff and administrators that let us do a little playing here and there...as long as, in the end, it benefits the students.
All sessions are being recorded in Elluminate and will be made available at a later date. I'm thankful for that so that I can go back and watch what I missed. Below are links to sessions I attended:
- Elementary Schools in the 21st Century - How Does the Pedagogy Change? How Does that School Look, or Not Look- Brian Crosby
- What if School Wasn't Just Like Real Life, What If It was Real Life? - Diane Laufenberg
- The "Decoupling" of Education and School: Where Do We Begin? - Will Richardson
- Copyright Confusion: The Future of Intellectual Property in a Remix Generation - Kristin Hokanson
- Leveraging the Wisdom of the Crowd: Collaborative Action Plans - Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
But I do encourage you to check all of them out.
On a side note, I only brought my HTC Droid Eris (previous thoughts) as a camera and was very impressed. You can see all of my Educon pics on Flickr.
Here is a wikispace with a collection of all (or dang near all) blog posts related to Educon 2.2. Thanks to Shelley for putting them all together (and I love the Twitter name).