23 September 2011

Deep Dive

I present at a lot of conferences---more now because educational technology has tentacles in every subject area. And while I believe that a single shot of PD will in no way lead to sustainable classroom change, conferences still have a role to play. Much of that is at a relationship level, whether it's getting to hang out with like-minded people or meet someone for a conversation. Sure, there's learning happening, but I think the larger purpose is more along the lines of inspiration and reflection.

Some of my presentations are of the stand and deliver variety. An hour with an audience who is just hearing about something for the first time doesn't leave a lot of room for a constructivist approach. I don't have time (and neither do they) to "discover" the information. What's more, I find I get a large number of walk-outs if I try to have participants do some activities---right or wrong, a lot of them want the sit-and-get approach in a conference session. So, I need to get things into their hands, the most important points into their heads, and then cross my fingers that they'll take the initiative to do more---although the research suggests that 99% of them won't. Why bother, then? Again, I'm not looking for sustainable change as an outcome. I'm looking for building personal connections with others who have similar interests.

However, I'm rarely content with the status quo. I like finding the edge and exploring. Maybe an hour at a conference won't change the world, but it doesn't mean that we can't take a deep dive into thoughts and ideas. So, there will be a new addition to my portfolio this year---a presentation for educators which looks at standards through a more adult lens and focuses on bigger ideas. A way to reflect on the knowledge/skills you practice today, along with where and how those developed, as a basis for talking about how we support students in reaching these same ends.

My goal here is to reverse, or at least reorder, the sequence of events. A traditional session delivers the nuts-and-bolts, all the while hoping that participants are making a personal connection to the content. This time, I want the message to be personal, only reaching the obvious link to the nuts and bolts at the very end. Will it work? I dunno. Do people want to choose a conference session that focuses on ideas rather than concrete take-aways? Beats me. But I'll take a chance and see what happens.

I'll share more specifics at another time, but so far, the presentation involves four clips from Desk Set, a variety of tweets from #phdchat, some work around the analog to digital shift in research, musings on metacognition, and oh---of course, the ed tech standards and assessments. Slide designs include dot matrix paper, chalkboards, and other ephemera to help us take a walk into the past in order to talk about the present. I think it will be good, but if nothing else, it will be different.

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