Quite a Slate

This coming Saturday I will be riding the rails to the Upper West Side for TEDxNYED, a conference not officially affiliated with the groundbreaking TED Conference held yearly.  I’ve had all sorts of travel restrictions this year due to the budget constraints being placed on us by both the state offices and our own offices, which was the sole reason I wasn’t able to attend EduCon this year, so missing this one would have been unbearable.

The conference is organized in the format popularized by TED–short, 20-minute maximum length talks detailing the passion of the individual. This is coming at a really great time for me as well, as we are heading into the time of year where creativity and resourcefulness are key.  An infusion of new ideas and energy is sorely needed.

Here’s the schedule of speakers for the day:


Andy Carvin
Michael Wesch
Henry Jenkins


11:30am OPENNESS

David Wiley
Neeru Khosla
Lawrence Lessig


2:00pm MEDIA

TED Talk
Jay Rosen
Jeff Jarvis



TED Talk
Gina Bianchini
George Siemens


4:30pm ACTION

Dan Cohen
Amy Bruckman
Dan Meyer
Chris Lehmann

There are individuals on this list from whom I have stolen mightily, and from whom I hope to pull some more insight this weekend.  I’ve designed slides based on Dan Meyer’s advice, discussed school structure based on Chris Lehmann‘s ideas, created curriculum from the ideas of George Siemens, and used Michael Wesch’s videos in front of more audiences than I care to remember.

After having sat through a session with Alan November today that, although re-affirming for the group I came with, contained nothing in the way of new, motivating ideas.  I am really looking to Saturday for that to happen.  Hope to see some of you there.


This Rut We’re In

Yesterday I found the “Quotes” Flickr Group that was put together by Dean Shareski, Scott McLeod, Darren Draper, et al.  The power of the image to change and inspire is a tool that I need to use more of in my work with teachers.  In looking through the offerings and the work of the 11 members of the group on Flickr, you see the passion with which a great majority of us in education act with on a daily basis.  That passion, I must admit, has been missing from what I’ve been doing lately.  Not to sound trite, but it’s as if I’d lost my mojo, and with it any of the passion I was attacking my work with.

As usual, my wife sat me down and straightened me out.  She told me some very basic things:

“If you can’t find someone to buy into your ideas, look somewhere else. They are good ideas, backed by someone who is passionate about what they do.”

From that conversation, I’ve noticed an uptick in both productivity, and focus.  The WTF attitude is starting to return, and ideas are beginning to grow legs. I love that woman.

From shareskis photostream on Flickr
From shareski's photostream on Flickr

In that light, I found this item from George Siemens to be of significant import in my thinking lately:

The challenge many educators face today in trying to improve learning
is not one of technology or information access. The most significant
need is to begin envisioning a future reflective of the affordances of
technology now broadly available.

The biggest problem we face is not lack of access or technology or filtering, but rather lack of imagination and vision.  What can we do with what is available to us?  What can our students do?  A word I heard at Jim Burke’s englishcompanion Ning site (which if you are interested in helping build community with anyone in your English department, you should visit and invite them to it), is “withitness,” and that what every teacher needs to possess is the drive not to be cool, but to do cool things–things that make your students say something in response.  Whether they loved you or hated you, you want them talking about what they did in your room on any given day.

I think we are stuck, at least in my locale, on imagining the same things we’ve always done because we haven’t been brave enough to imagine what it might look like in the future.  I, for one, am going to start using my hands and my brain to create this vision.

MIT students build mobile applications in 13 weeks – elearnspace