Sitting by the Fireside

picture-3-1.jpgThe Fireside chat took place this morning for the K12 Online Conference. There was a good roll-up of attendees via the Elluminate platform, topping out at one point at about 110 people. David Warlick was on hand to answer some questions from the group, and people were firing questions at him at a rapid pace. The chat stream was like a fast-flowing river, with comment after comment after comment streaming up the screen. Sometimes I wonder how effective these really large chat streams are, as it’s so hard to have a deep discussion let alone a coherent conversation! As someone noted in the chat, it was like being ADD on steroids.

However, the opportunity to connect with a worldwide group of educators and engaging in discussion and conversation about things that we think matter was wonderful. David did well to field the diverse (and sometimes quite difficult!) questions from members of the group. I even got to throw a question to David myself.

Virtual environments like this are an interesting experience, and it was clear that it was a new experience for many there. It was great to see so many people turn up for it, take part in the event, and learn from it.

You can listen to the audio version of the chat here (53 Minutes, 17Mb)… unfortunately, Audio Hijack didn’t get both sides of the conversation all the time, so you can’t hear all of the questions being asked by the audience, but you do get the answers from David and the Moderators. Still, I’m sure you’ll get the idea!

http://www.virtualstaffroom.net/k12online/fireside.mp3

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Spread the Love

You may have heard the story about the penny doublng every day for a month, or the grains of rice on the chessboard. These stories are based on the principle of exponential growth, and exponential growth is a really amazing thing!

You can use the same principle to spread information too. You tell a few, and they tell a few. Those few tell a few, who in turn tell a few more. Pretty soon, many know.

The organisers of the K12 Onlline Conference would like to use this principle to spread the word about the event. As you may know, the conference kicks off on October 8 with David Warlick’s preconference keynote address, delivered like all the other presentations of course… in downloadable digital format. It then has a full 2 weeks of presentations being released at regular intervals between the 15th and the 26th. See the flyer for more details.

To help spread the word, we are passing it along in the form of a meme. Here’s what you’re asked to do… simply create a blog post where you link to the flyer image in this post.

Then, list three reasons to participate based on your experience from last year or, if you didn’t attend last year, write three things you hope to gain from taking part this year. Once you’ve written your 3 things, then tag several others who will do the same thing. After you tag someone in your post, please email them to let them know so they can help spread the word. Oh, and if you really want to help spread the word, why not print yourself a copy of the flyer and leave a few around your school? Or hand them out? Or tell your colleagues at a staff meeting? Or make a mention of it in your school newsletter? Just tell people!

So, for me… 3 reasons to participate based on last year…

  1. It’s a great chance to learn about new things, or to learn about old things but see them in new ways. David Warlick’s “off the rails” example is simple and obvious, but it has really stuck with me from last year’s keynote and I’ve applied it’s principle in many ways over the past year. It’s a very powerful idea that makes a big difference to seeing what is really important in the learning process.
  2. An expanded sense of community. I now know so many more educators all over the world. We communicate and share ideas regularly. We Skype and we Tweet and we share. We have an ongoing conversation, and the learning that comes from that conversation is incredibly powerful.
  3. Last year stimulated many great ideas. Not only in me but in other teachers around me, and some of those teachers went on to do some astounding work with kids and tech. I know much of that stuff would never have happened without the influence of the conference. It was a major trigger.

There are probably other reasons, but that’s enough. So now I’m passing the meme on to these amazing teachers… All Australian and coincidentally all starting with a J.

Jess McCulloch
Jo McLeay
John Pearce
Judy O’Connell
Jason Hando

Spread the love!

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Hot off the Press!

As the 2007 K12 Online Conference gets closer, it’s time to start getting the word out to everyone about it. You may recall I blogged on it a few weeks ago, but since that time I volunteered to help out on an organising committee for the conference so I’m getting to see all the work that goes on behind the scenes of a conference like this. One of the things we’ve been working on is a printable flyer that can be copied and stuck on the noticeboards in your schools to help promote the event to your staff.

You can get a printable A4-size PDF copy of the flyer here, (or click here for a Letter sized one if you’re in the USA or Canada).

If you’re in a school, here’s what you can do to help spread the word about the event…

  • Download and print some copies of the flyer for your staff. Put them on the noticeboard. Put them in teachers’ pigeonholes (that’s inboxes for you North Americans). Leave them on the staffroom coffee table.
  • Talk about the event at a staff meeting or morning briefing. Let people know about the event. Tell them the dates. Give them a quick overview of what it’s about.
  • Encourage people to take part in the event. And of course, take part in the event yourself!

I was at a conference today with about 150 ICT integrators and most of them were unaware of the event. I did my best to change that. However, you can bet that the majority of teachers in your school also know nothing about the conference, and many of them would find it very beneficial. Even if only a handful of teachers on your staff actually take part, it could make a world of difference to them. Please encourage everyone to check it out.

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No Excuses, Just Do It

As the K12 Online Conference gets closer, it’s time to start thinking about how you plan to participate in it. As I mentioned in a previous post, last year’s event was amazing and this years is shaping up to be even better, building on the successes and learning from the mistakes of the 2006 event.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of the organising team for promoting the conference, and we are currently coming up with a bunch of ideas for getting the word out about it. How do we spread the message to as many teachers as possible that this conference exists and the wonderful benefits of taking part in it? Here’s a couple of the main features of the event, as I see it…

  • Our presenters will be some of the world’s best, most creative, most current, classroom practitioners using Web2.0. Think of the big ideas you will be exposed to!
  • The presentations will all be in a digital format, enabling you to watch or listen to them, download and save them. You can take part in this event as it unfolds, or you can access is at any point in the future. If you want to get a feel for what’s on offer this year you can take a look at last year’s event… I’m sure you’ll get the general idea!
  • There are plenty of ways to get involved in the conference as it unfolds, from live chats, Elluminate conference sessions, blogs and wikis, to the final As Night Falls session.
  • There is no cost to attend. Yes, that’s right, it’s free. Which is actually a problem, because it might cause you to undervalue what’s on offer and that would be a real shame. What you will learn from this event is worth a great deal more than the pricetag might lead you to think!

Having said all that, there are a few teaser videos to get you thinking… You’ll find them all over at the K12 Online Conference website.

And don’t miss the opening keynote address on October 8th. Or, do miss it if you want to… it doesn’t really matter because you can get it anytime, but wouldn’t it be better to get involved in this event as it unfolds so you can take part in the conversation?

So don’t tell me “I wish I knew more about using technology in my classroom”. Don’t tell me “I just don’t have time”. Don’t whine anout the cost and inconvenience of attending worthwhile conferences. You have the opportunity here to take an active part in an excellent event with great information, zero cost, and complete flexibility. You have no excuses. If you’re serious about being a better teacher in the 21st century (and aren’t we all?) then you really ought to take part in the K12 Online Conference event.

On a personal note: I watched and listened to quite a few of the presentations from last year’s event. Not all of them but a lot of them. I can tell you that the handful of big ideas I picked up were extremely important and paradigm-shifting to the way I think about what I do as an educator. You really ought to take part in this event, even if you don’t do all of it. One good idea can make all the difference!

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K12 Conference Countdown

Last year I took part in a very exciting and innovative professional development initiative. I’m referring to the incredible K12 Online Conference. If you were also a participant last year then you’ll know how good it was. It you weren’t, then for goodness sake, don’t miss it this year!

This virtual conference is the brainchild of a group of educators (amongst them are Lani Ritter Hall, Darren Kuropatwa, Wes Fryer and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach) and is probably best explained by this short blurb taken from the K12 Online website

The “K12 Online Conference” is for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice! The 2007 conference is scheduled to be held over two weeks, October 15-19 and October 22-26 of 2007, and will include a preconference keynote during the week of October 8. The conference theme is “Playing with Boundaries.”

The presenters at the conference use all sorts of digital tools – screencasts, podcasts, vidcasts, downloadable presentations, live elearning tools, etc – to create their workshops. The topics for last year’s conference were diverse and fascinating, and included the use of Web 2.0 tools, creative uses of emerging technologies and of course they all had a strong pedagogical focus. The keynote speech was delivered by the influential David Warlick, and the presenters list read like a who’s who of the edublogging community.

To say that I came away with more ideas than I could use is an understatement.

I was also fortunate to be able to help out as a moderator with the final event of last year’s conference, “As Night Falls”, which was a 24 hour Skypecast session that chased the sunset around the globe, connecting educators in real time for a summary of their experiences. It was great to be able to get involved in that way.

The other terrific thing about this type of conference is that all the previous presentations are archived and kept, so they can be revisited at any time. However, there is a certain magic about participating as it happens, so don’t put it off. Highly recommended, give it a go!

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