Ways of Working

I hope you’ve all been following the K12 Online Conference this year. There have been some fabulous presentations coming out of this year’s event and, as usual, there has been a diverse collection of topics and ideas with something for everyone. You can check out the entire conference at k12online.ning.com

I had the privilege of being able to contribute to the conference again this year with a presentation called Ways of Working. I must admit that it deviated a bit from my original submission idea, which was to create a movie that followed the processes used by three different students as they responded to a task from their teacher. I was planning on looking how each of the three students used the web and social technologies to take a slightly different approach to dealing with the set task.

As so often happens, the intention of what I wanted to do was quickly drowned out by the time and resources I actually had to make it happen, so the presentation morphed into what you see above. It’s not exactly what I’d planned, but I’m still pretty happy with it… it still looks at most of the things I wanted to include, but just not in the way I’d originally envisioned.

It was an interested experience to hang all this stuff off a single focus point, in this case, the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition that takes place in Sydney each October/November. I particularly liked the idea of using SxS as the core for the presentation because I know of quite a few schools that do actually use it as the basis for a thematic unit of work for their students so I know that it really does have a “real world” use in education. I was also quite fascinated with the way that social media and web technologies have infiltrated and expanded the event over the last few years, and I think it offers a great example of how the web and the real world can collide in a good way. I also liked the notion that the use of technology in schools can (and should!) be used to support real live physical events, and that technology really can be used to enrich a real world experience. And finally, because K12 Online is such an international event, I wanted to take the opportunity to showcase a little bit of Sydney, this beautiful city in which I feel so lucky to live.

Hope you enjoy the presentation, and that you take the time to check out the other 79 or so presentations that have been part of the conference this year.

K12 Online Conference starts today

Of all the conferences and professional development events I’ve taken part in over the last few years, the K12 Online Conference is the one that I think has had the most impact.  Not surprisingly, because unlike many “one-hit” conferences that are over at the end of the weekend, K12 Online rolls out over an extended two week period, releasing several presentations each day on a wide range of topics.  These presentations are all in some multimedia format, usually a video, but they could be in whatever format the presenter chooses, and they live on permanently beyond the actual conference itself.  It really is, as they say, the conference that never ends.

The K12 Online Conference started in 2006 as the brainchild of a couple of North American teachers.  If you want the full story of the conference and how it started, you might like to listen to episode 16 of the Virtual Staffroom podcast where I got to interview those who started it.  Ever since that first year, I’ve looked forward to K12 Online each year.  There’s an incredible effort behind it… I can vouch for that, as I volunteered to be on one of the organising subcommittees in 2007 and 2008, and I’ve also contributed presentations in 2008 and 2009.  So I can tell you from first hand experience that there is a huge amount of work that takes place behind the scenes, from many passionate and committed educators, to make this all happen.

Anyway, the 2009 conference, with the theme “Bridging the Divide” was officially opened today with a pre conference keynote from the fabulous Kim Cofino.  Like everything Kim does, it’s full of passion and insight into what it means to be an effective teacher in the 21st century.  I’ll embed it here, but you should probably head over to the K12 Online site and check out all the other stuff going on there.

Once you’ve watched it, go check out the schedule of stuff that will be released over the next few weeks. There’s something for everyone.

Then once you have seen the schedule, make sure you grab some of the presentations for this year’s conference. Heck, why not subscribe to one of the RSS feeds and get them as they are released.  You won’t regret it.