Ignite!

I did not fly to San Antonio for the June 23-26 ISTE 2013 Conference, I followed it from Paris, and was fired-up by that same buzz and passion streaming through live Twitter feeds which kept me glued for 3 days in some virtual jetlagged space. The amazing participants’ motivation shared on the conference’s fire, could be measured, not only by the amount of #Iste13 tweets, but also by the extra care taken to share most tweets with a related link – a true touch of class for remote followers! Thank you all for the awesome take-aways which I’ve now posted on my public Diigo library.

As the conference has been extensively blogged, with sessions and keynotes profusely acclaimed, I would like to focus on one particular aspect that had a great impact on me: The Ignite sessions. Ignite sessions, designed by O’Reilly Media in 2006, have become an ISTE tradition and could be the answer to George Couros’s question:

“What does your school do to promote the sharing of your expertise?”

Ignite is a fast moving event where presenters have 5 minutes and 20 images to tell their story, share what ignites their passions, and inspires their audience. “Speakers use 20 slides, rotated automatically and each shown for 15 seconds—this could be a professional practice from the classroom, excitement about a new tool that will spark creativity for their students, or a personal story of student engagement. The presentations are meant to ignite participants by generating awareness and stimulating thought and action.”

Adopting Ignite presentation model in schools:

Now that a great part of school meetings’ agendas can be addressed ahead of time via Google Docs collaboration, more time is available for sharing ideas. I can see Ignite as a perfect format to re-connect school communities and open the floor to anyone, faculty, staff, parents or students, eager to share passion and expertise to spread the fire.

The two videos posted below are vivid illustrations of teachers and students’ passion generated by Ignite fast spaced presentations:

Examples of some ISTE13 Ignite sessions: Move play head to 0:19:38 to start Ignite sessions

Student’s model of Ignite presentation that will blow you away!

If schools embraced the power of Twitter…

If schools embraced the power of Twitter…

  • Twitter’s apparent frivolous motto: “What are you doing?” would gain full potential and extend to: “What are you thinking, learning, discovering, “visioning”, designing, listening to, reading, blogging about?“.
  • Barriers between admin, faculty, staff, students, parents and community would dissolve in a cloud of connected passions, unsuspected ties, latent connections and opportunities irrespective of age, role, status, and class – grade or socio-economic.
  • Teachers’ meetings would turn into an ongoing (transparent, and accessible) stream of resources, professional development, bouncing-off ideas and experience on what works and does not, with instant targeted feedback:

“Tweeting is like directed Googling. Instead of doing a Google search, you’re harnessing human power, a human-generated search engine driven by education professionals who are passionate and have determined that having an online presence will have a dramatic, positive impact on their professional practice.”  Eric Sheninger

  • Locked cabinets would open-up their resources to be used, mixed, remixed and attributed.
  • Sharing, collaborating, and attributing each other’s work would be the new norm.
  • Upcoming conferences, would be public knowledge, repeatedly announced, retweeted, and back-channelled, so great ideas can spread to those who can’t attend – and supplement the experience for those attending.
  • The 140 characters limit would become the art of minimizing thought in a nutshell – Good or bad is debatable…
  • Minority voices would no longer be silenced by those who:

“embrace the status quo and drown out any tribe member who dares to question authority and the accepted order” (Godin, 2008, p 4) Tribes: We need you to lead us. 

  • Competition would give way to collaboration with a growing understanding that the more you share the more you gain…

It is commonplace for the “unfamiliar” to undermine the power of social media: “I don’t tweet I don’t twat, I don’t Facebook I face life.” slammed a recentkeynote at a tech conference. Yet, Twitter remains one of the cheapest, most accessible, real-time, and transparent tools to connect otherwise inaccessible educators to Professional Learning Networks and mitigate the potential drowning resulting from isolation, and help develop gills together.

So, better hang-out than be hung out to dry…

And for what it’s worth, “unfamiliar” is how I – and most people for that matter – feel everytime a new technology surfaces, evolves, spins-out, or matures into a worthwhile applicative tool. That’s ok. We deal with it, shake the unease, and try to run with it. Sometimes we fail, make a fool of ourselves, but we’re trying it and more often than not, that growth, experimentation and learning process is where we get the most out of it, and is also most likely one of the key skills we need to teach the next generations; the ability to learn, unlearn, adapt, search, evaluate, experiment, and think critically with their own experience – and embrace that process.

And yes, its often them teaching me that.

​I love my job.

Learning to love the iGeneration

ECIS TECH CONFERENCE 2013, 14 – 16 March, Hosted by ACS Cobham International, London, England

Learning to love the iGeneration… and… embrace the irresistible IT vision of tomorrow’s classroom….

A confronting double edged conference’s title that implies a generation divide wider than any preceding ones, in a new context of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity and an urgency that can no longer be ignored: The paradoxical co-existence of “Education 1.0” in “Society 3.0

Who is the iGeneration?

A generation fully at ease with fast changes, “born to be wired” whose first digital footprints date back in time of a fetus in the womb, for whom

“WWW doesn’t stand for World Wide Web but Whatever, Whenever, Wherever, and for whom, a phone is not a phone but  a portable computer to tweet, surf the web, and, of course, text, text, text”. Larry D. Rosen

A mobile generation, no mouse, no desktop, no landlines, who chats rather than email. A generation who does not get what we did with computers before “the internet”, why we had to buy 10 songs to listen to one, nor the time wasted trying to locate a track on an audio cassette… A generation of “screen-agers” connected 24/7, who doesn’t separate work life and social life, school and world. Who has tasted the honey of participation and authentic audience and who sees creating videos just as essential as writing essays. A generation who can work past midnight on a shared Google doc and does not see why Facebook should be banned at 11am. A generation blamed for their short attention spam who…

“…certainly don’t have short attention spans for their games, movies,music, or Internet surfing. More and more, they just don’t tolerate the old ways—and they are enraged we are not doing better by them.” Mark Prensky.

A generation who has figured out before us, that “Community Trumps Content”, that learning is more meaningful when “collaborating, tagging, voting, networking, sharing, juggling with tools to create user-generated content”, rather than sitting in classrooms consuming and regurgitating data for tests. A generation still herded in classrooms by date of manufacture and core subject: Math, English, Science, Social studies (MESS), who questions Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve got Google? Thus echoing Nicholas Negroponte’s prophetic: “is Knowing obsolete?” A generation who would prefer independent projects and would not draw classrooms if asked to design schools. Finally, a generation who does not seem to care or understand whyprivacy matters.

Is education ready to embrace the irresistible IT Vision of tomorrow’s classroom?

Jean Vahey, ECIS Executive Director, set the tone in her opening keynote:

“It is not about bringing IT into the classroom. It is about bringing classrooms into the world. Should we call it classroom still? “ Is technology an enabler or a Distractor? Does it extends the thinking and prepares students for the future?

The fire from the conference’s 1300 participants (400 schools, 80 countries) spread through sessions and keynotes, all inspired by a shared understanding of the “irresistible IT vision of tomorrow’s classroom”. Summarized below as the 8 characteristics of Education 3.0:

Meaning is socially constructed and contextually reinvented.

Community as Curriculum:
Plan curriculum around connections, information, communication, location, generation.
The greatest changes of our future will not be technology, but the power of people as they connect. Its communities that change the learning not the content.
Its over the content that we teach that we need to build in our schools.
“Flipped instructions” should be created within a network of open learning, and connectivism.
Munich International school presented a session on how to avoid the top-down flop side of Khan Academy: “Khan’t we do better”?
Gafeclass.com is a great example of an online class within a community: students have to learn in 8 weeks the content together, share sources and take a final exam.
The new participatory architecture of learning: collaborating, tagging, voting, networking, sharing, juggling with tools to create user-generated content, will free up classroom time to facilitate more meaningful collaboration.

“Best learning takes place when the learner takes charge.” Seymour Papert creator of Logo before Scratch.

Technology is everywhere.

We can’t compete with connection, so let’s embrace it together and through connections, acquire habits of life-long learners without bringing in our fears stemming from past baggage. Change is normal. With strong resolve, fire and passion will dissolve resistance: “Dont-teach-your-kids-this-stuff-please!
Trust leads to intrinsic motivation. Students and teachers need to be trusted to take advantage of the educational opportunities provided by social media. Rather than separate life and school, we should be teaching time management.

Responsible Internet use is best guaranteed by positive reinforcement, not restrictions alone.” Johnson Jacob

Jeff Utech’s presentation showed that integrated digital literacy will reduce teachers’ fear that students may use internet for bad things rather than good things like this anonymous FB page to “Send a compliment” to other students. Jeff explained how we fail students by not teaching search. Students should use Google Search quickly and efficiently to obtain quality information, evaluate internet sources, and understand the use social bookmarking to help facilitate collaboration. See Jeff’s search page and Google Search skill links. Are our questions for students googleproof? If Goggle can answer it, it’s not a good essential question! Do “A google a day” question for 5 minutes per day, to understand how to ask a good question.
When things don’t work out, don’t blame the kids, don’t blame the tech. Blame the context & learn to adapt.

Marc Prensky and Stephen Heppell discuss the concept of turning nouns to verbs.

“Technology is not about stuff but Verbs vs Nouns. Verbs are the skills that students need to learn, practice and master, verbs are the underlying learning, and pedagogy is typically about the verbs, that is, how to provide students with the subject-specific and general skill they need” (See Digital Union – Teaching Digital Natives. What’s Your Role? Partner or Lecturer? p. 45) Nouns are the tools that are used to learn and practice the verbs or skills, including hardware and software –in other words, the technologies that can be used to learn and teach such as social networking sites, podcasts, You Tube, etc. For example, if the “verb” is Researching and Managing Information as it relates to watching and listening, the “nouns” would be podcasts, You Tube, Big Think, TED Talks, video search engines, speed-up tools for audio and video clips, text-to-speech programs.”

Teaching is done teacher-to-student, student-to-student, and people-technology-people.

“Engage me or enrage me”,“It’s Not ADD—I’m Just Not Listening!” Engage with students rather than try to engage them.
Find-out their passion, inspire rather than train.

“The fight for the kids’ attention, for me, is not a fight for attention, but steady focus, by choice, driven by passion. It isn’t that they can’t pay attention.  They just choose not to.”  Marc Prensky

Teachers must model collaboration for students.Teachers with good digital literacy in social media can become part and parcel of positive initiatives in a community. The fear of the new context should not become an excuse to exhort more control but instead to learn. “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. There is no best practice in a fast moving context, but shared new practices. Sometimes teachers need help with technology; students can help with that. Schools should embrace responsible sharing with their students; a skill to be taught and practiced in classes. Sharing is key, the more you share the more you learn.

“Our job isn’t to teach, it’s to get the students to learn.” Ian Gilbert.

Make teaching less important than learning. Its not what we learn but how we learn. Teachers are more than ever innovators in their crucial role to guide students through the abundance of information and changing the culture of teaching in a collaborative network.

“technology will never replace teachers.  However, teachers who know how to use technology effectively to help their students connect and to collaborate together online will replace those who don’t. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

A teachers’ role is more than ever to discriminate between fads, trends and principles.
What about The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking? Asynchronous conversations online are now giving an unexpected opportunity for introverts to share, participate and be recognized in their own time and space.

Schools are located everywhere.

Julie Lindsay: Flatten classrooms through connection, citizenship, collaboration.

“Technology is now as foundational as reading”.

Flatten the classrooms walls, open-up to the world, digital classrooms feel like the world, connecting and teaching schools, students, and teachers to reach out for new learning opportunities. “Flat learning” is important because it connects learners with the world and impacts the contexts in which we learn. A good leader is one who gets out of the way of the learning.
Digital learning will change the way schools are designed and will enable access, exploration, failure, focus, imagination, independence, collaboration, agility and… success. Designing new schools without first designing learning is like going back to the future: “Is”classroom-design-and-(then)-learning’ the best that we can do?”

Parents view schools as a place for them to learn, too.

Between, teachers, students, parents, there is a dialogue waiting to happen if we let it.
Make the best out of parents’ expertise and connections. Integrate them in digital literacy.

Teachers are everybody, everywhere.

Teachers become “teacherpreneurs” and reach out to find profitable opportunities to create relationships and communities that can foster learning in interdisciplinary projects.

Hardware and software in schools are available at low cost and are used strategically.

Invest in student-centered technology enabling connections and collaboration. Google apps to: Stay connected, Study together, Get stuff done, Invisible IT, Green, Security.

See clip: Spreading the fire with Google apps

“Most of the discourse around innovation in education has been around infrastructure, but do not focus on new strategies for knowledge acquisition or transfer.” Invisible learning

Apple TV vs Interactive Whiteboards as a low cost alternative for engagement. We must really the power of online learning like Coursera. In 2014 0.5 Million K-12 students will go to class online in 2014. MOOC ( Massive Open Online Courses) are growing exponientally watch this great discussion on MOOC.

Industry views graduates as co-workers or entrepreneurs.

What is entrepreneurial learning?

“How do you constantly look around you, all the time, for new ways, new resources, to learn new things? That’s the sense of entrepreneurship I’m talking about, that now in the networked age, gives us almost infinite possibility. “As we move into the 21st century, we have to completely rethink the works-cape and the learning-scape. We have to find ways for each of us to get more talented by working. Just getting being able to learn as individuals not enough. The question is, how do we start to scale these types of learning systems…and invent new types of institutional forms, new types of practices, and new types of skills to be able to leverage the capability of technology. The technology is the easy part. The hard part is what are the social practices around this, and also the institutional structures. We have to ask ourselves, what will the institutions of schools and universities…look like five and ten years from now.”

Credentials will become far less important than people/projects/portfolio. Companies will be looking for people who are ready to take risks, apply new experience, with workers motivated to share and collaborate, thrive in non-hierarchical organizations, try new technology, be ready to learn unlearn relearn, not afraid of failure. The qualities required will be: persisting, managing impulsivity, responding with awe, questioning, innovating and thinking interdependently. Programming and coding are literacy skills that should be taught and required.

Genius will trump gifted:

“The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on– because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.”-Noam Chomsky

From the the iGeneration to the “weGeneration”.

The term ‘IGeneration” came from Steve Jobs’ 98 keynote introducing the iMac with fast access to the Internet. “i” then, stood for internet, Individual, Instruct, Inform, Inspire. Today’s urgency is less to “Instruct, Inform, Inspire” but grow together as S.O.C.I.A.L. “Sincere Open Collaborative Interested Authentic Likable”.

“Learning to love the iGeneration” may be less crucial today than participating in a “weGeneration” with collective intelligence in building communities, writing textbooks together, in a world that is always on. Connect old and new literacies, and be Net smart and thrive online”.

We all need to open-up to the ability to use those skills socially, in concert with others, in an effective way. MIT press edu

“One-to-one” learning is turning into “one-to-world.” Alan November

And balance remains key:

“I would trade all my technology for an afternoon with Socrates.” Steve Jobs

Thank you @steven_cliff and the ACS Cobham International team for making #ECISTech2013 happen!

Some keynote speeches: Jefft UtechMarc PrenskyJulie LindsayChandran Nair

Conference tweets: #ecistech2013

Blogging, what matters is the humility that comes from writing it…

Seth Godin & Tom Peters on blogging.

Seth Godin: How many of you have a blog? Alright. Blogging is free. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it. What matters is the humility that comes from writing it. What matters is the med cognition of thinking about what you’re gonna say. How do you explain yourself to the few employees or your cat or whoever is gonna look at it. How do you force yourself to describe in 3 paragraphs why you did something. How do you respond out loud. If you’re good at it. Some people are gonna read it. If you’re not good at it and you stick with it. You’ll get good at it. But this has become much bigger than are you boring, boring or having them post. This has become such a macro-publishing platform that basically you’re doing it for yourself to force yourself to become part of the conversation even If its just that big. And that posture change, changes an enormous amount.

Tom Peters: I, I will simply say my first post was in August of 2004, no single thing in the last 15 years professionally has been more important to my life than blogging. It has changed my life, it has changed my perspective. It has changed my intellectual outlook. It has changed my emotional outlook, parenthesis, and it’s the best damn marketing tool by an order of magnitude I’ve ever had.

Seth Godin: And it’s free.

Tom Peters: And it’s free.

Learn Different

Strategically planning the fire…

When injecting new visions to our strategic planning, let’s celebrate the fire of those “crazy ones”, who dreamed their farsightedness into reality, rather than plan from obsolete standards for a future which is no longer what it used to be.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And as some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

– Think Different” Apple 1997

Essential questions:

  • Who owns the learning?
  • Is schooling becoming dangerously irrelevant and getting in the way of students’ education?
  • Is our range of production platforms matching the diversity of our student’s learning styles?
  • Is our teaching grade oriented or learning oriented?
  • 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?
  • Are online resources, social media, & digital citizenship part & parcel ingredients of learning?
  • Do we want 50 learners plus a teacher or 51 learners?
  • Technology is changing the way learners learn… is it changing the way teachers teach?
  • Do we model leadership or followship?
  • Are we ready to shift from compliance through control to engagement through autonomy?
  • International education is a plus, is global education a must?
  • Can we take the risk of reverse modeling?

Questions inspired by A. November,  M.TorresD. Pink, K. Cofino, S. McleodS. GodinA. KohnC. Shirky D.Tapscott

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. http://bit.ly/2FsGvH #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