Month: March 2012

What would your perfect conference look like?

Image In October, we enthusiastically agreed to join forces with Lausanne Collegiate, The American School of Bombay and Frankfurt International School as a member of the Laptop Institute team. January 19 – 21, 2013 Graded will host the Innovate 2013 Conference. Since then we have had a blast working to plan a meaningful learning experience for all participants. We started by determining a name and a theme and then took ideas from some of the best conferences that member of the planning group had attended. We considered The Laptop Institute, ASB Unplugged, Learning 2.011, K12 Online Conference, Educon 2.4, and a few others.

Our committee still has a long way to go as we strive to break the conference mold but we are excited about the direction that we’re heading. Below is our current stance on our learning structures.

Innovate 2013 Learning Structures

In an effort to combat the Education Myths That Shape Conferences, Innovate 2013 is committed to providing a variety of learning structures to support participants in investigating innovation and planning for transfer in ways that are powerful for them personally.

Two-hour Open Space Slot: Open Space Technology was created in the mid-1980s by organizational consultant Harrison Owen when he discovered that people attending his conferences loved the coffee breaks better than the formal presentations and plenary sessions. This block of time is designed to hand over the conference to participants to determine what kinds of dialogue need to happen that we at Innovate 2013 missed in our planning.

Cohort meetings:  Scheduled three times throughout the conference, cohorts are a group of 20 – 25 individuals that gather regularly to exchange ideas, reflect on learning and create connections that result in meaningful, personalized outcomes from the conference. Organized and focused by a facilitator, participants are encouraged to choose into a cohort that best defines where their driving question about educational innovation may reside. This learning structure is designed for participants to build a plan for taking learning back to their organizations.

Cohort strands to choose from include:

  • Leadership
  • Instructional Technology Facilitators
  • The People Behind the Scenes: Infrastructure
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Differentiation/Special Needs
  • Assessment
  • NCTE Twenty-First Century Literacies
  • The Arts
  • Collaboration in local and global communities
  • Physical Education
  • Student

90 minute workshops and three-hour institutes: We invite YOU, our participants, to share your work and ideas with everyone by presenting at the conference. Come and share how you or your school are integrating technology in the classroom, challenging the status quo, or pursuing strategies that place students in the center.  Share your experiences launching and implementing a 1-to-1 program, utilizing digital tools to support assessment practices, building collaborative communities, or examining strategies that add to the dialogue of educational innovation.

We’d love to hear your ideas on what makes a conference valuable for your own learning. If you had the chance to plan your own conference, what would it look like?

How much are you willing to expose yourself?

ImageOn my recent trip to New York I happened to see the Naked Cowboy in action. He seemed very comfortable in only his hat, underwear and boots and he was putting on quite a show. He’s obviously quite the extrovert and performer and I could not help but think about how comfortable he was exposing himself to thousands of strangers. It got me thinking about how much I’m willing to expose about myself online with blogging and social networking tools. While I may have been timid in the past, I actually find myself becoming more comfortable exposing myself online. My thinking is that it will offer a wider audience some insight into my thinking and personal life.
Let me test out a few scenarios for comment.
1. Friending Colleagues on Facebook – I still remember reading in First Break All the Rules by Buckingham and Coffman that questions #5 is “Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?” As a principal what do you think about friending others from your school on Facebook? Do you see it as a way to learn more about your co-workers and a way to let them into your life? Or, do you see it as a risk?
2. Sharing The Work of Your School on a Blog – Doug Johnson’s guidelines for blogging have always seemed reasonable to me. He suggests that you…
  • Write assuming your boss is reading.
  • Gripe globally; praise locally.
  • Write for edited publications.
  • Write out of goodness.
How much are you willing to share about the work that is going on at your school? Are you only willing to share the positives while you keep the negative issues and conflicts internal?
3. Posting Photos and Media Online for the World to See - This Thursday we’re offering a parent workshop on digital footprints and we’re talking quite a bit about what types of photos and videos we will post online. I recently traveled with a student group to do community service and I was anxious to share photos online via Flickr or some other tool. How do you view the sharing of school related media online?
4. Sharing Your Personal Life Online – If you’re on Facebook how much of your personal life are you willing to share? Does your stance on this have anything to do with your school community? For example, will you post photos of you with alcohol? Are you careful about the language that you use?
Going through the process of determining how much you want to expose yourself can be exciting and scary at the same time. The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone in trying to figure out the right level of exposure. I for one don’t plan on parading around in my underwear online but I may be seen in my swimsuit at the beach.