Ideas from Connect 2013

On May 6-7 I attended #connect2013 – Canada’s learning and technology conference. The sessions I attended were all “big idea” talks by interesting educators. Below are a few thoughts and resources collected over the two days:

Blogs

“Our species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.” Mary Catherine Bateson

Blogging is not only an effective way to disseminate information but it also acts as a tool for thinking and reflecting. By writing a blog post, you are forced to think about your tone, content and audience. In addition, you’re reflecting on your practice, your pedagogical style as well as creating questions for further thought. The second layer is pushing your posts into the public sphere so others can comments and engage in conversation regarding your blog. Also, student created blogs can act as a portfolio which stays with them from JK – grade 12. This allows students to reflect on their best work, create a compilation and learn the technicalities of embedding multi-media. Blog posts written by students should not be graded but used for formative assessment and feedback.

Check out George Couros’s post on 5 reasons why students should blog.

If you’re new to blogging check out The Why of Blogging by @janaslindsay.

 

Devices and Tools

  1. If you’re looking for an online tool that allows for lesson planning and sharing, check out the ed-tech start up: PlanBoard.
  2. Check out the LiveScribe wifi pen. A teacher demonstrated her use of the pen to record audio notes and pictures of hardcopy work which were transported through the pen onto the students’ Evernote notebooks!
  3. If you’re looking for a game based math tool for JK – Grade 6, check out the ed-tech start up: Prodigy.

 

Collaboration and Seven Degrees of Connectedness

A few sessions were themed around MOOCs, collaboration and online connectedness. One great example is the idea that we are connected online in 7 different ways depending on experience and comfort. Rodd Lucier explains this concept in his blog post. Moving from luker, novice, insider, colleague, collaborator, friend to confidant seems to apply to all aspects of relationships regardless of whether they happen online or face-to-face. Understanding these dynamics and the changes that can occur allow for you to better understand your own role in relationships.

One of the presenters said “we’re not just facilitators of learning (we’re not the guide on the side); we still need to create structure for our students”. Listening to this and comparing it to a session run by Dave Cormic – who coined the term MOOC and encourages uncertainty – seems disconnected. However, both presenters are right. Content and questions need to be asked by both the teacher and learner. In our current classroom, depending on activity, the teacher and learner play both roles. There needs to be opportunities for structure and opportunities for uncertainty. Finding a balance is key to a healthy classroom that will automatically encourage all individuals to become teachers and learners.

Lastly, check out this creative and fun collaborative project by Rodd Lucier et al called “What Would Yoda Do? A Jedi Approach to Professional Development”

What Would Yoda Do? A Jedi Approach to Professional Development by thecleversheep

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