Filtering, access, collaboration, care, trust, responsibility, noise, connect, social capital, communities of practice, iPads all around, hyperconnectivity, the six degrees of Bacon, #edchat, reputation, highly intelligent kids, policy, purpose, and politics: I think ISTE 2010 began very well.
Having attended the first-ever ISTE/TIE Leadership Bootcamp, I was impressed with their lineup while torn by the unfortunate scheduling conflict with EduBloggerCon. In truth, the jumps I made during the day from LBC to EBC to LBC to EBC were fascinating because both events were structured very differently, both had quality people contributing to the atmosphere, and each was unique in its strengths.
To delineate, the Leadership Bootcamp taught me a number of things. First, I'm still comfortable with the relatively liberal filtering policies we put in place in our District. We put forth an adequate effort in maintaining CIPA requirements while also giving teachers and students the freedom to access social sites potentially helpful to their curriculum. Second, we've become an incredibly difficult society to teach - at least when teaching means lecture, and as students, well, we're networked. More on that to come. Third, the Leadership Bootcamp was successful in teaching me that an increase in cost doesn't always translate into an increase in learning. While the learning that took place at LBC was certainly top-rate (and traditional in its approach, to be sure), such an environment had no corner on the market of effectiveness.
Fashioned after the "un-conference" model, EduBloggerCon on the other hand, was free to all participants and informal in its approach.
Session Conversation topics and facilitators were selected at the beginning of the event, and no participants were paid for their services. Learning was the focus, and provided by the community for the community - all in the form of conversation, untainted by the sight of sages on stages. In jumping back and forth between LBC and EBC, it was clear that conversation is an incredibly powerful method of learning, capable of rapid customization but also often prone to easy derailment. More than once, conversations began with a clear objective in mind, but were quickly shifted toward topics originally unintended.
Through the conversations I was privileged to experience during EduBloggerCon, I also learned many things. Primarily, it was solidified in my mind that there exists an important role in many classrooms for the iPad. In spite of hearing cautionary voices to the contrary, I think that if a teacher's central goals include increasing a student's love for reading, then the iPad is a more sound investment than laptops or netbooks. The more I use the iPad, the more I'm attracted to its interface, and oddly, the more I find myself addicted to consuming its content. In contrast, I've never felt similarly compelled to read PDFs on my laptop and doubt our students ever have, either. Strange, I know (and probably even unhealthy).
All in all, I'm grateful to have been able to participate in the ISTE/TIE Leadership Bootcamp and EduBloggerCon, and would recommend both events in the future to any teacher hoping to learn how to improve their practice.
Image source: David Warlick.