Education Leadership Summit 2010

International School of Prague

“Innovation is the difference between a leader and a follower.”

– Steve Jobs

Apple’s Education Leadership Summit at the International School of Prague was true inspiration: Every ingredient of what education is all about was happening for real: students, teachers, leaders, consultants, shared the same urge to collaborate, innovate, take risks, inquire, promote creativity and curiosity. The common denominator being: the necessity to go beyond, “This lazy, dangerous, ideology of carrots and sticks” and redefine the intrinsic motivation of learning with new technologies.

The Summit opened with an exceptional reception in Prague’s Lobkowicz Palace, hosted by the current heir to the House of Lobkowicz, William Lobkowicz, technically titled “Prince”, although noble predicates are prohibited by Czech law since1918. While the city’s lights glittered from the castle’s windows, Dr.Arnie Bieber, Director of the International School of Prague (ISP) introduced his dynamic IT department, and explained how the Petr Mares1:1 Laptop Programlead to Challenge Based Learning: CBL. John Couch, Vice President of Education, Apple Inc, reiterated Apple’s ongoing leadership vision, to provide more authentic learning opportunities that challenge students to make a difference in their learning process.

As dinner progressed, ISP students and their faculty facilitators shared their collaborative projects, and described how, hands-on problem solving developed deeper motivation and ownership of their own education. To see 5th graders seamlessly integrating three to five different applications in their MacBook Keynote presentations was wonderful, but their maturity to express the “Changes and challenges” they face, growing-up in a digital world, silenced everyone. Middle School Students showed similar engagement in their designing The School of the Future: classroom curriculum, use of technology, and connections with real partners: architects, educators, businesses and green ethic. Grade 7 students were playing: “Curator for a Day”, another authentic challenge, where artifacts never catalogued by the Lobkowicz’s collection, had to be researched and interpreted in an attempt to convince the museum to choose them as junior curator. In the next room, Upper School IT design students, in collaboration with the Games production class, presented a Flash Game with questions about the Czech republic, which incorporated 3D models made in Maya, and music remixed in Logic Express. Meanwhile, the IB film class was doing an “on the fly” documentary of the event, to be edited with essential questions: How are events, whether historical or typical, transformed when filmed and edited? Do we see the truth when we watch something? How much of what we see is reality? Does the film lens give us the whole story?”

The next two days unfolded with ongoing showcases of outstanding initiatives on three parallel tracks: Hands-on teacher sessions, Leadership vision, and IT leaders nuts and bolts: Inspiration, Experience, Redefinition

Marco Torres‘s morning keynote fired-up real questions… Here are just a few notable nuggets:

  • “Is our schooling getting in the way of the students education?”
  • “Why do we ask: “What type of learner are you?” and not “what type of producer are you?”
  • “Your “out” may be different from your “in.”
  • “What other fields do we build for our schools beyond the football field?”
  • “Are we paying attention to what learning looks like outside of school?”
  • “What motivates students to post tutorials on Youtube for free, instead of doing homework?
  • “Resources and network are the ingredients of learning.”
  • “Distance is defined by bandwidth.”
  • “Plagiarism is not always negative, “imitation is proven path to mastery.”
  • “Don’t rush the solution, stay in the question. Do we want 50 learners plus a teacher or 51 learners?”
  • “Technology is changing the way the learners learn… is it changing the way the teachers teach?”
  • “Have you asked students and administration to define school in two words? – “it sucks or it’s cool” versus ”Forefront of education or Life time learners.”
  • “International was an option, global is mandatory.”

Finally, Marco told the story of a student who did a remix of a “The return of the Jedi” on GarageBand and received special mentions from G. Lukas, and J. Williams. Ironically, though, but he could not play in the school band: no instruments for him.

Clearly, technology allows creation of new tasks previously inconceivable: but who would have believed in Kyle MacDonald’s red paper clip story, as he traded one red paperclip for a house!

Steve Pape presented how to develop students’ empathy and financial skills using microfinance as a development strategy and cover content & skills of the IB syllabus.

While I was back-channelling (exploring the parallel digital conversations which take place simultaneously online during such an event, on twitter, facebook, blogs, and other social media), Gregg Betheil’s idea: “If students prefer video games to school, ask those who create games to develop schools.” I got this tweet back: “@cloudlord That is actually what @katiesalen et al. have done this last year in new york. #edchat#AELS10
The school in question, Quest to Learn is a new public school in New York City, narrowing the divide between playing and learning by creating a game-like curriculum that engages students. Arana Shapiro later presented us the concept.

Among the many, authentic learning sessions offered, Nell Thompson‘s Full Sail University, felt like fire: Full Sail is a 24/7 challenge-based environment, offering a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees–including Internet Marketing, Entertainment Business, Education Media Design & Technology and Game design.

While Bill Rankin demonstrated “How Digital Books Will Change the World” and may destabilize teachers, unless we move along with students’ innovating minds, Matt Federoff showed how Vail School District, Arizona had liberated its teachers from textbook-driven curriculum by creating a user-generated, and an ever-growing library of original digital content. This rang true to me as I feel, after many years as a French teacher, that textbooks are too often ordered to reassure parents, and that collaborative authoring and sharing online platforms need to take more of a central role within international schools.

Clay Shirky’s “Reverse Mentor Panel” made the learners into teachers, and the teachers into learners, to show how students have been clearly shaped by the world in which they have grown-up, and how Web 2.0 technologies are changing the definition of schooling.

Finally, Itay Talgam, world-renowned conductor and Music Director of the Tel-Aviv Symphony Orchestra and of Musica Nova Consort, introduced Music as a Metaphor for Leadership and Learning. With excerpts from his Ted Talk, Itay cleverly demonstrated the expertise required for effective leadership: Ownership of Interpretation, with a shift from self-actualization to self-transcendence. When real… the dialogue is bound to be real. Then, doing happens without doing… Watch Leonard Bernstein at:19:39 on Ted Talk video.

Thank you to the Apple Team, The International School of Prague, and all the orchestra!

Related resources:

• Transcripts of Summit tweets #AELS10:
• Books: Clay Shirky: Here Comes Everybody, Daniel H.Pink: Drive, Clayton Christensen: Disrupting class
• Photos: claudelord@flickr set

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