iPDX14 Takeaways

This past week, I had the opportunity to take part in integratED – Portland organized by OETC.  This conference has a different feel than your regular education conference as it brings together facilitators from across the United States and Canada, to run hands-on workshops where participants are actively engaged in exploring, creating, and playing! One of the great features of this conference, is that there is often multiple sessions that you want to attend at once, so the organizers created a collaborative notes document for participants to share their learning from each session in. This way, you are able to access information from multiple concurrent sessions.

Some of the highlights of the conference for me were:

Opening Keynote – Mark Frauenfelder, Editor-in-Chief of Make Magazine  (Twitter @Frauenfelder)
– As the cost of goods has decrease, society has become more disposable
– Design has changed to be disposable. It is much cheaper to buy a solution to your problem than to make a solution to your problem.
– The internet has allowed the common person, to be able to collaborate with people around the globe to expedited the speed of iteration and respond to changes faster than larger corporations/organizations can.
– Important for everyone to learn that mistakes are part of the design process/learning process. The more you make mistakes earlier in the design process they easier and cheaper they are to correct.

Workshop 1 – Create More, Consume Less – Nancy Mangum, The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation (Twitter: @nmangum) – Key Apps – Pic Collage, I-Nigma (QR Code Reader), Stop Motion Studios, Tellagami, Videolicious, 30 Hands
– The affordances of iPads allow students to capture and create works of media
– When working with content creation apps, the ability to export to the camera roll is essential
– Importance of creating emotional responses during the learning process, reference to John Medina author of Brain Rules
– Tasks must be designed carefully to allow students to explore and create, resulting in multiple ways to express their understanding

Workshop 2 – Making Connections: Supporting Education Technology as a Building Leader – Tricia George, Director of Technology, North Clakamas Schools,  (Twitter: @kicking333) and Tim Lauer, Principal, Lewis Elementary School (Portland) (Twitter: @timlauer)
– Participants were broken down into small table groups for a round table discussion
– People are struggling with the SAMR model; many people are still finding technology being used in the “substitution” realm
– Integration happens after you build capacity within the system; identify a cadre of teachers who you can bring together on a regular basis to build capacity and identify mentors for others
– Importance of having information easily accessible and transparent (for all stake holders)
– Stress the importance of your staff using email properly – establish clear expectations for the use of email. There are better ways to communicate!

Workshop 3Play is Hard Work – (Twitter: @Budtheteacher)
– Trust is so important in building community – whether with a class of kids, or a department of teachers
– Find ways to express that your classroom/school is a place where people are supported to ‘play’, explore, learn from mistakes, grow. One example that was given, was having LEGO available during a meeting to build and tinker with. – Adults/Teachers sometimes need a reminder of the power of play.
– The further you go in school the more you lose the ‘play’ culture; perhaps, it could be suggested the more it is even needed!
– There are many constraints within the school system that we do not have control over; by looking for ways to incorporate play/improv it allows us to move within the constraints in the best possible way
– instead of saying “yes, but…” try and rephrase into “yes, and..”

Workshop 4 – Networking!

Workshop 5Let Students Be Amazing – Ben Grey, Chief Innovation Officer (Twitter: @bengrey)
– The tools and technology that we have today allow us to re-conceptualize what learning can look like. The landscape has changed and we need to adapt.
– Leadership within his school district will have spent 7 full days (63 hours) developing capacity to think beyond the traditional models of learning
– Our students are empowered to learn with or without us. They are clearly very empowered to learn outside of the classroom. How to do change the ‘classroom’ to make sure they are empowered to learn there as well.
– Control is something that all teachers struggle to give up – We all live in the “what if …” – as an institution are we prepared to deal with these questions
– We often discourage or protect kids from experiencing hard things. We want to save them from having negative experiences.
– The amplification of the internet – ideas now can be shared so much faster and further.

Workshop 6 – Visible Thinking with Apps – Michelle Cordy, Thames Valley District School Board (Twitter:@cordym) – Keys to utilizing iPads effectively – App Flow, Assessment, Workflow
– App Flow – many apps are highly specialized, getting more than one app to work together is called ‘App Flow’ or ‘App Smash’, want to create content utilzing different apps and be able to stitch them together
– Assessment – being able to collect student work, annotate it, provide feedback and return it to students
– Kids can feel bogged down with the learning process, need to streamline it as much as possible so they can be metacognitive and learn about how they learn
– Mindset is key when having kids use iPads – need to prepare them for the eventuality that everything won’t work all the time- great analogy “You have to sharpen your pencil just like you might have to restart your iPad app”
– iPads (current technology) is the worst technology these kids will ever use in their life -> It will only get better from here!
– Apps need to be ankle high to get started, but unlimited possibilities of what you can do with them
– Great application of Stop Motion Animation in documenting the learning process (detailed post to follow)
– Great ideas for Book Creator app (detailed post to follow)

Closing Keynote Speaker – Scott Berkun (Twitter: @berkun) – The future of work is going to look very different from today
– Work has changed from meaningful survival tasks, to now tasks that allow us the funds in order to be able to do those things that we consider meaningful
– Interesting to think about the lack of engagement in the current workforce and what role students moving through school unengaged results in them moving to the workforce unengaged
– There are lots of cultural traditions around work that are not productive; There are lots of cultural traditions around school that are not productive or may not be the best option
– Progress is messy
– Innovation is a catch phrase – better to say ‘significant positive change’
– Much faster to skim text than to skim video -> Interesting connection to the ‘flipped classroom’ -> mostly video based -> perhaps to limit skimming?
– Email empowers the sender
– Blogging/chat feature empower the reader


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