Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shanghai Takeaways

Went up to Shanghai and had another great conference at Learning 2.008.

This time I didn't feel so far behind the learning curve - last year my brain was about to explode halfway through the second day. And this time I presented a workshop. Very similar to what I gave last time at the HK 21st Century Learning. Felt nice to have a standing room only crowd, felt GREAT to have about half a dozen people stick around afterwards to ask more questions / start using their new readers. You can see the notes that people wrote about my preso here (maybe you need to sign in to the Ning first?), and the slidedeck is up here.


What am I taking away from this? Well, had two fabulous meals - one that cost me 100USD (here), one at a local place that cost all six of us under 50USD.

I found the keynote speakers quite inspiring. David Warlick, Clarence Fisher, and David Jakes were my favorites. Warlick's preso on the future of education was brilliant in every way, from powerpoint to delivery to pacing to energy (it's listed in this post as "Telling the New Story"). Great to see Clarence Fisher in person - I LOVE reading his blog.


However, it was a bit funny...the whole conference was framed as focusing on the teaching, not on the tools. But most of the takeaways I have relate to the tools. Shoot, even my preso was about a tool that should make life easier for teachers.

The big question in my head is, how do we get to a school full of teachers like Clarence Fisher, where every classroom is organized like the one he describes here?

How does that happen? What does that mean for the school day? More importantly, what does that mean for the curriculum? There are lots of great online learning systems getting rolled out in international schools, and tons of examples of 1:1 laptop schools. But it seems to me that these programs are in some fundamental ways still recreating the structures and hierarchies of a typical secondary school.

Where does participatory culture come into play? Where is the playing field leveled between teacher and student? Where is the school that truly organizes EVERYTHING around the principle that everyone in the building is a learner?

I would love to spend some time reading more of the posts in my reader, going through Warlick's website and scouring it for insight, following Fisher's blog devotedly to see what he's doing in the classroom with these ideas. Unfortunately, given the nature of a full-time classroom teacher's day, I don't know when that time will come.

So that's why I've been looking seriously into going back to the States to spend a year getting a Master's in Education. Figure that's when I'll have the freedom to direct my thoughts towards these big picture questions.

'Cuz right now, I gots papers to mark.