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learning.now: at the crossroads of Internet culture & education with host Andy Carvin

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January152008

Next Stop: EduCon 2.0

I don’t get to go to education conferences as often as I used to, particularly with a 19-month-old at home nowadays. If I do plan to attend one, it’s gotta be one that’s bold, radical and overflowing with really creative people. That’s why I’m gonna do whatever I can to get to EduCon 2.0 later this month. It’d be a crime to miss it.

Taking place the weekend of January 25 at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, EduCon 2.0 will be a gathering of educators, technologists and others eager to explore the role of Web 2.0 in the classroom. The event is built upon five basic principles:

  • Our schools must be inquiry-driven, thoughtful and empowering for all members.
  • Our schools must be about co-creating — together with our students — the 21st Century Citizen
  • Technology must serve pedagogy, not the other way around.
  • Technology must enable students to research, create, communicate and collaborate
  • Learning can — and must — be networked.

“The idea of EduCon was to bring together a group of people to talk about school reform - about what schools can and should be as we move deeper into the 21st century,” explained Chris Lehmann of the Science Leadership Academy, organizer of the event. “It was to see what would happen if we opened our doors, not as a major educational institution, but as a school, and invited everyone we knew — and everyone they knew — to come together to talk, listen and learn.”

One challenge for Chris and his colleagues, of course, was to differentiate the event from all the others crowding the annual conference calendar. “We didn’t want it to be a ‘technology’ conference, but rather, we wanted to ground the sessions in pedagogy, and then think about what that pedagogy means in a changing world,” Lehmann said. “Often, that means looking at Web 2.0 tools, but not in every session. I’m excited about the idea that this is an education reform conference, first and foremost. I think — I hope — that becomes a really interesting lens.”

One thing I find particularly exciting about EduCon II is that they’re combining elements of a conference with actual classroom visits - in this case, classrooms at the Science Leadership Academy. “We’re going to have people shadow SLA students as well as have an open conversation with teachers,” Lehmann explained. Similarly, they’re also coordinating with Philadelphia’s famed Franklin Institute to offer educators a museum tour prior to the bulk of the conference sessions.

Looking at the conference schedule, it’s not particularly crowded with events - but Lehmann believes this is a very good thing. “We’ve made the sessions longer - 90 minutes - with 30 minutes in between and built-in reflective time and reflection activities at the end of each day. Our goal is to structure it in such a way as to make the sessions more interactive, more about conversation than presentation, and then, rather than overwhelm everyone, give folks the chance to go deeper into fewer things, and then have the time to think, reflect and plan, based on what they see.”

For me, though, I’m most looking forward to EduCon being an intimate affair where educators in the Web 2.0 space can interact in person. “It’s just a great chance for a lot of people to come together and meet the people in this larger educational social network that has developed over the past couple of years,” Lehmann added. “For many of us, it’s a chance to meet the folks whose blogs and tweets we read every day. For other folks, it’s an introduction into that network face to face.”

“In the end, what I hope folks get out of EduCon is that it’s a weekend where people can think, talk, dream about what is possible and then have the time and space created to start to plan how to make that change happen.”

I, personally, am counting the days. Hope to see you there!

Filed under : Events

Responses

Andy - Can’t make it to EduCon…was hoping I could have a conversation with you in person.

You wrote an article recently about having an open timeline. This is exactly what we’ve built with xtimeline.com. It’s an online tool that allows students to collaboratively build interactive timelines. As you said in your post, “Technology must enable students to research, create, communicate and collaborate.” I totally agree. I would add to the end of that “…using up-to-date resources and tools they’re familiar with or should learn.” The question is, how do we make sure educators stay ahead of the curve?

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