Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#bbw12 Day 1 (part a): In the future, #iceiscold + Sightseeing

Woke up after an intense first half-day of Blackboard World. This may be a pattern given that I started #iste12 blogging the same way, but I think I might line-by-line the day and see if anything pops out for anyone. If you want expansion, are here and would like to add, or see something wrong, please feel free to comment below.

Monday Night: DevCon Party
We crashed. It was so classic as they searched for our names on a list and we laid down the "but we know a guy line". I felt like I was in a bad 80s moving trying to get into the club with all the cool kids. Yeah, I said it, at Blackboard World, the developer's are the new kids.

He who controls the camera...
Expect a lot of @40ishoracle pix
  • I met the new CTO of Edline Blackboard Engage, he has been in the position about 3 mos. The @40ishoracle and he talked Apple interface issues and dreamed of JD taking attendance on the chromebook.
  • I had a lovely conversation with a lady dressed right out of the SCA who turns out to be so high up in the Blackboard echelon that her title is almost as obscure as when I was dubbed "Director of Strategery" -- that may have been her title, actually.
  • We played wall flowers while our friend @phjmille was dragged onto the dancefloor by a sultry vampire, a scruffy werewolf, and Jake from the Blues Brothers. 
  • Highlight of the evening was when the amazing band solo'd through each instrument on "So you say it's your birthday" in celebration of Heather who made the most of the spotlight.

(and now you know what happens when geeks get down - jealous yet?)

Tuesday - Before the Con:

...and food.

  • Wandering the streets of New Orleans in search of beignets (found them along with crawfish omelets and scones)
  • Wandered through the rain ("oh, so that's what rain is like" said the drought-stricken midwesterners)
  • Registered and with three hours to kill went Catholic Tourist sight seeing.

Interlude: (as if this whole section weren't and interlude)
I love talking to people who make their living on the street and when a shoe-shiner caught my eye, just couldn't resist. Hats off to him, cause he was smooth and knew how to play the game, complete with 10-ccent wisdom, a partner who showed cash from another happy customer, and politeness to Jen. He didn't get $20 dollars off of me for a spitshine, but he did try his best. "The punchline is "you got them ON YOUR FEET"
End Interlude

Breakout Session One: "The Future of Interactive Education"

This was presented by Kate Worlock (awesome name) who works for OUTSELL, a technology number-crunching company. She positioned her talk well at the beginning of the day, laying out trends and themes to keep in mind for the rest of the conference.

While I am a sucker for a british accent, there was a lot of #iceiscold remarks. I guess that the data supports it is interesting:
  • We teach in rooms of about 30 students that have very different worldviews and ways of learning
  • We should be teaching 21st century skills -- it is no longer about just knowledge transfer (was it ever?)
  • We are expected to teach more students, more things, with less money (this is the educaitonal equivalent to walking uphill both ways through snow)
  • Education is traditionally a market that is evolutionary, not revolutionary
So, what is the future of education?

It certainly seems to have something with a device in every hand. Although she was cagey about what that would look like. She distinctly shied away from BYOT (it got three mentions and was listed as one of the few long-term economically feasible options, but was always presented with "But we all know the problems with that" -- the number of head-nods was annoying).

Interesting Note: The cost of equipping every student with an iPad would be more than a modern day manned-moon mission. -- interestingly, I am not sure what point she was making, but it put it down here.

OnLine learning is going to be key. There is just too much information availability waiting for someone to put it into certifying organizational units. She mentioned edX, Harvard, and MIT as leaders in this movement. She also pointed out that with the information and content being competitively free online, publshers are being forced to sell services that organize and give more to the classroom than just content organized around pedagogical themes.  What was interesting about this point was thinking about how many book publishers (yes, Pearson, I see you in the corner) are selling these services as added-value or teaching extras. I think this is a red herring. Their services are the lifeblood of the future. Educators need to hold the quality of these services to a MUCH higher standard than we have been. If their future is in services, we need to be taking a close look at how those services match our educational philosophy, our students needs, and our teachers' classroom goals. -- It's not about the book.

Interesting Note: Digital content makes up 70% of most other comparable industries. In education its about 30% -- no wonder we have tipped the efficiency mark yet.

There is a lot of discussion but not a lot of direction going on about teaching (this may get a little #iceiscoldy). In higher education, prestige, grant money, and more is determined by research. Consequently, hiring decision favor researchers over great teachers. While employers are unimpressed with the skillsets of college graduates, the trend has been toward more assessment (essentially spending a ton of money on quality assurance) and less on changing the production methods or the educational product as a whole.

Interesting note: In Britain, there was a plan to knock all the schools down and rebuild them to take advantage of learning. They then went to teachers to figure out what the buildings should look like. The disagreement fell into three categories: No buildings at all,  T-Route (teacher centered) and P-route (pupil centered). -- The project never happened. They ran out of money.

The presenter (and maybe the data) is all over the map about screen time and other issues. There is a reccomendation in Britain about no-screens for children under 3 (they have obviously not met my kids..although that might explain why that Parent-of-the-Year award hasn't shown yet) -- no data or explanation was given. There is some interesting research in the areas of textbooks vs. screens in terms of learning -- Textbook have an advantage in terms of raw facts recalled, but NOT inter terms of concept explanation or understanding. But all of that is based on one study.

Ultimately, two things she said are sticking with me:

We give choice to students in pre-school (what toy to play with, activity of interest, etc.) and in college (choose major, choose courses, choose time of day for classes). But in the middle, we demand a near-total control to the point that we test any area that we do not have our administrative thumb on, namely the classroom, to be sure they are doing exactly what is expected. Interesting contrast.

There is no centralized repository of testing, data, and learning. Innovation, when it happens, happens in pockets rather than across the board. Major broad-based innovations (South Korea going all digital in five years) get walked back after the announcement without the same press coverage. So as we rethink systems: flipping, virtual schools, personalization, the P-route in general, we will not find our inspiration on the news or from politicians, or from educational leaders in the national spotlight. We will likely find it in little pockets of educators doing amazing things. 

Fire up twitter, because my next post is about @NMHS_principal and social media

On the agenda for today: Keynote 2, the @40ishoracle and I present on BYOT and LMS, and we do a VLOG.

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