Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Thoughts from SocialEdCon

One of my favorite parts of ISTE has always (well, the four years I’ve attended) been EduBloggerCon, this year retitled to SocialEdCon. It’s a much smaller event and focused on conversations rather than presentations. It’s in an unconference style, people throw out topics and ideas, vote on their interests, and a schedule is made. I participated in threesessions out of the four time slots. I was worn out by the end.

The first one I picked turned out to be a bit over my head. It was about open source, something which fascinates me but for which I did not have anywhere near the necessary background knowledge for the level of the conversation.

Next I went to a discussion about making education trend in the media. The conversation was animated and interesting. I was struck by the fact, that while technology can clearly play a role in this, it was not the main topic of the session. Making education trend in the media is not a technology issue. We went back and forth a bit about local vs. national media. The consensus seemed to be that it isn’t that hard to get education as a focus in local media. The difficulty is in making education a national topic in a meaningful, not education-bashing way. I made the argument that education in the local media makes a larger difference than we might recognize. Even simply sharing positive stories on facebook helps people outside of the education world to have a better understanding. Local media, in whatever form, helps to build background knowledge for people and to make it more likely that they will take in national stories with a grain of salt. With that thought, I need to continue sharing on facebook and try to share things more widely in my community.

The final session I participated in was about info-tention, the idea that we have a lot of information at our fingertips and our attention struggles (I think). We seemed to take two tacks in our conversation, one about politeness and one about stamina. Stamina is where our conversation started but it veered around, occasionally returning to this idea. We talked about how well students, and adults for that matter, can read longer, more complex texts. Is our reading on the internet making it harder for us to read other types of text? In the politeness realm, we talked some about connectedness and use of devices around others. When is it okay to be on our computer/phone? When should you shut those things off and focus on other people? Is there a line or does that vary by person and situation? Can others ask that someone turn off or put away their phone and focus on the conversation or presentation? 

I often leave these events with more questions than answers. On the whole, I think that's a good thing but it sure can be frustrating at times.

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