My annual trek to EduCon began in January 2008-the middle of my first year formally engaged in “education.” At that time, the conversation-oriented, principle-driven experience at Science Leadership Academy was just beginning, and I was captivated by its intimacy (100 people) and connectedness. It was that weekend Twitter crystallized for me as a networking tool; I saw my personal learning evolve within a learning community; and my commitment to educational change became nonnegotiable.
Over the next two years, local colleagues joined me in Philadelphia. I loved the opportunity to share the experience, even though it was not always the Mecca for them it was for me. Some came away with nuggets, but the value really depended on the investment we each made to connect outside our group with others. As I look back it was during this time that I grew more comfortable participating in conversations and sessions, and I came away with a greater sense of myself as part of this community. However, I was absolutely sure I would never find a strong enough voice to lead a conversation.
This year, four years “in,” my personal experience of EduCon has deepened, hopefully reflecting some personal growth but most importantly honoring a process and the people who have encouraged me. As incredibly overwhelmed as I was to take on the Encienda format (20 slides auto-advancing every 15 seconds), the experience was exhilarating and challenged me to focus deeply on something that really matters to me: constructivism and learning through the design process. I don’t know if the Encienda sessions were recorded, but I’ve posted my slides here. For those interested in following our work with digital fabrication, I hope you’ll add our blog (with resource links) to your reader.
The conversation around literacy and new media literacies “Why Johnny Can’t Read: A Conversation About What It Means to be Literate... Today” with my good friend David Jakes was not only immensely satisfying but a humbling opportunity to learn from him and the many smart and seasoned voices in the room. I believe the question “what is literacy today” must be an integral and fundamental part of any conversation about how and why schools need to change. In fact, it is so important I have encouraged schools who are thinking hard about 21st century learning and 1:1 programs to engage their faculty in the question. We’ve posted our presentation and various resources that continue to inform our work on Jakes’ site here.
A number of EduCon presenters and attendees have shared their reflections on the sessions they attended, their own presentations and the overall “feel” of EduCon this year. Although I think there were some really good sessions, and some new conversations started here and here, I believe the heart of EduCon continues to be the relationships, the SLA community, and informal conversations throughout the days and evenings. The spontaneous unconferences on a wintry Friday (school was technically closed, so students and visitors joined in some great informal sessions), the discussions of gender diversity after Sheryl’s sessions, “war table” brainstorming with school librarians, working with Jakes, pushing the envelope by presenting, and just hanging out with new and old friends are what made EduCon special this time around for me.
Looking forward to next year. And, encouraging everyone to join the conversation. I do agree that we are better together than alone.