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?

Why everyone raves about Educon 2.4

Photo by assorted stuff

I had the pleasure of attending Educon 2.4 this weekend at the Philadelphia Science and Leadership Academy (SLA) and I was not disappointed. I went because I’m passionate about conversations on learning in today’s world and to gather ideas on how to organize a first-class learning experience. Graded will be hosting the Innovate 2013 Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil January 19 – 21, 2013 and our planning is underway. So, why is Educon such a great learning experience for participants?

  • SLA truly is a special place where all members of the community have a common vision and they are focused on learning in today’s environment. There is a solid foundation in place and they are continually working on improvement. The learning is connected to today’s world, students work on real life problems, they create for a larger audience, and the community is tight. They are walking the walk.
  • Educon attracts educators who are passionate about their work to make teaching and learning relevant for today’s students. The presenters are excellent and the participants take the conversations to a higher level. Everyone can be challenged during the weekend. Pretty amazing that so many leaders in this field attend since everyone pays their own way.
  • The two panels were on Innovation and they brought in a diverse group of experts to present. The fact that the first six weren’t educators was plus. Imagine hearing from the following people.
    • Dan Barcay – Lead Software Engineer, Google Earth
    • Alex Gilliam – founder, Public Workshop
    • Zoe Strauss – artist, photographer, innovator.
    • C. J. Taylor – Professor, U. Penn GRASP Robotics Lab
    • Phoenix Wang – Co-Founder, Startl
    • Moderated by Dr. Frederic Bertley – Vice President of the Center for Innovation in Science Learning, The Franklin Institute

This type of opening was much better than having one person as a keynote.

  • The structure provided participants with 90 minute sessions and time in between sessions for conversations. Friday was an excellent time for visiting the school and starting up conversations.
  • Participants were eager to meet new faces and to develop relationships. This is not a conference for those who want to sit alone at lunch. You have to be prepared to mingle with new friends.

I have to thank the SLA Gang for creating this wonderful learning experience and we hope that the  Innovate 2013 Conference can offer South American educators a similar experience.