The Big Ideas

After months of anticipation and excitement the Learning 2.0 conference is now officially Learning 2.0ver (yes – I am hilarious, I know. Read on). My head is a whirlwind of scattered thoughts, fresh ideas and unanswered questions. Overall I would not say that I found this conference to be completely transformative. It definitely wasn’t the religious experience that some people are making it out to be! However, it was certainly worthwhile and I’m grateful I attended. My eyes were opened in a few different and entirely unpredictable ways. If anything, this conference has definitely refueled my motivation to continue with what I am doing and find ways to improve it. I was feeling quite burnt out before I left, but now I have found renewed energy thanks to the support and advice from my international colleagues. It has also reassured me that I work at one of the best schools in Asia as our level of digital infusion far surpasses the majority of those I have encountered thus far.

I was initially surprised, however, that at a conference that attracted me based on its technology focus, I learned almost nothing new about technology. In fact, there were sessions I went to where we didn’t even use a digital device. The chart paper, markers and post-it notes came out in full force! In one workshop we even had a newspaper fashion show. As it turns out, the focus of this conference was more about the “big ideas”, than the tools we use to explore them. Although some teachers or technology specialists may have been disappointed that they didn’t learn exactly how to make a movie or link MOODLE to Mahara, what I didn’t realize until now is that, whether intentionally or not, this conference brilliantly and unexpectedly exemplified exactly what we need to be doing with our students. It’s not about content delivery.

“Kids, you have a new textbook – it’s called Google”

has been retweeted multiple times. Think about it – why would I go all the way to Beijing to learn how to create a Workshop in MOODLE? Any one of us have the ability to go on the internet and research the ins and outs of iMovie. What we need the conference for is all the stuff we can’t do alone such as have rich, active discussions with other teachers that open our minds and force us to question our practice. This conference was a new type of professional learning experience. We weren’t lectured for three hours in extended sessions. We were forced to participate and we had to be social. These are the two things I usually avoid like the plague at conferences. I couldn’t escape this time otherwise the whole three days would have been a complete waste. There was no passive transfer of information from leader to delegate happening during these workshops. The learning was active. It was, as one teacher put it, “hard fun.” My brain was completely drained by the end of each day. I was impressed with the way the presenters of the sessions tried to practice what they preach. The greatest value for me and the deepest learning came out of informal discussions and facilitated sharing sessions. I was able to connect with people I never would have had the chance to meet. But I also got to pick the brains of my colleagues and friends, which was one of the more rewarding aspects for me. I love that I get to work with such passionate and intelligent individuals that constantly challenge me to rethink my beliefs. Thanks @brendandcoreyb, @singexplorer, Sunny and Justin. I felt that most of the conference mirrored what our classrooms should be like – interconnected, global, social, dynamic, contextual, flexible, challenging, interesting, and fun.

learning 2.0 photo

In the next blog post I will explore the “big ideas” as I see them, that resonated with me the most during the conference.

Image URL: http://innovationuniverse.com/2011/08/28/what-makes-big-idea-elusive-%E2%80%93-the-pain-of-growth/

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8 thoughts on “The Big Ideas

  1. What? Not a religious experience? You must not have gotten enough Kool Aid! Seriously though, once all the hype and back patting stops a few things hopefully remain and by the looks of it, you have seen what those things are. We did not plan for this year to be about “big Ideas” it just sort of happened, as if as a region we are growing and headed naturally in that direction.

    As a planner of this conference, I am so proud and happy that this was your experience, “most of the conference mirrored what our classrooms should be like – interconnected, global, social, dynamic, contextual, flexible, challenging, interesting, and fun.”

    I am sorry we didn”t meet in person, but here we are on The Webz to have this conversation. I chatted with Sonny and Brendan a lot too and work with Aloni, so I am sure that we will all hang out soon enough. Looks like I might be in HK in January. Till then see on on the Twitter and thanks for this honest and generous recap. Looking forward to reading more.

    1. Hi Jabiz! I’m disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to meet you! Your Learning2Talk was my favourite one. I am envious of the way you have created such a nice classroom space. It is so hard to do in a science lab. However, I have changed my desk seats this year to groups of four and it already makes a HUGE difference compared to the rows. I wish I could fit a couch in amongst the lab benches! Anyways, Paula and Aloni speak so highly of you. Hopefully I will get the chance to meet you in HK if you are coming to 21 C Learning. Thank you for inspiring me and for reading my reflection. You are a great presenter and your passion for authentic student learning really comes through. I look forward to learning more from you!

      1. Thanks for the kind words. (now I am blushing) Looks like I will be in HK in January, so we will have to meet and hang out for sure. See you on the webz in the meantime.

  2. Thank you for your honest feed back and like Jabiz I’m glad to hear that the Learning2Leaders practice what they preach. It’s hard because we’re trained to get the tools, to want the tools and throughout the conference I heard people saying “I just want a list of tools” which makes no sense what so ever. A) you can look that up yourself if you know now to search. B) My tool list might not match your needs. There’s no magic list of tools that is going to get you started in this space.

    I love this line: “There was no passive transfer of information from leader to delegate happening during these workshops. The learning was active. It was, as one teacher put it, “hard fun.” My brain was completely drained by the end of each day.”

    My hope is kids feel that way every day when we get done with them. If not….we need to rethink what we’re doing.

    1. Hi Jeff! Thank you for commenting. I thought the overall message and intention of your session was brilliant. Thank you for creating a flipped classroom workshop that was not about making videos, but about giving students the tools they need to find more information than we would ever be able to give them in a pointless lecture. And I loved that your session was useful for any discipline. Even the in-class activity you described could be applied to any class. I definitely picked up some useful tips and enjoyed the ensuing discussion. The best comment you made was that we must use class time for teaching skills and putting content into context. I think if you are really “flipping” your class, it means you are finding more effective ways of using class time that benefit student learning and give them time to create something new.

  3. I enjoyed reading your blog post 🙂 Thanks for sharing your reflections with us all.

    I liked this part especially: “I was initially surprised, however, that at a conference that attracted me based on its technology focus, I learned almost nothing new about technology.”

    That’s because for me, Learning 2.012 is about the verbs, not the nouns. The verbs (things like communicate, learn, share) stay the same, but the nouns (moodle, Facebook, wikis) may change. If you spend your time talking about the nouns, your focus is on the wrong things, IMHO.

    I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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