Let me share a colleague with you

Dr. Scott McLeod is an Associate Professor at Iowa State University and the director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE). He had the opportunity to speak at a TED event recently. He basically gives a short summary on how we got from there to here. “Here” is the important part.  Please take 16 minutes out of your schedule, but pay particularly close attention from the 11 minute mark on.

Both I and Dr. McLeod are always willing to extend the conversation. You can also find him on Twitter. I can also suggest his collaborative blog written by school leaders for school leaders.

A Paradigm Shift in Classroom Design

Science Lab

Photo: Science Lab at Smithsonian in DC. We need one of these.

I have really been struck with the idea that we have reached a plateau in new technologies. I realize that useful, new gadgets and sites will continue to come out, but what we have currently will help us provide so much more to our students than we ever have before. So, why aren’t we seeing the change we need at the pace we need it and the pace the kids deserve it?

The answer is us. It truly is us. We are the problem. We are the disablers. We are the barriers the students cannot break through. Don’t get me wrong. We are using new tools with students in some amazing ways. We are engaging them like never before. Yet, we do it in spurts. It is just a modernized version of our old, standby friend the poster project. The kids get all excited, not because it is a good project, but because it is not a text and worksheet. That’s just wrong. To quote my friend and mind stretching mentor Dr. Gary Stager, “The blame lies within the bankruptcy of our imaginations.”

Yes, it is a start, but what good are starts if we hit the brakes every single block. It takes us forever to get across town where we should really be at already.  We should be buried in the middle of local conversations about how we could be changing teaching practices to better fit the kids we see coming through our doors. Seriously. What progress is made if we only automate the same boring routines? What new level (notice I said level and not concept) of learning is achieved if we continually return to the old textbook and worksheet far more often than open ended projects? And, yes, tests can still be passed if we do things differently.

It’s not just the teaching style that needs change, though. Shouldn’t it also be about the learning space? It is for them.

We have so many places we need to start with this. ISTE is moving forward with a new initiative as well.  Consider getting involved with it. But for now, let me begin with the presentation below. It is a nice conversation starter sure to thrill some, confuse some, and tick off others. Which category are you in? Wanna talk?

Area 7 TCEA Technology Conference coming soon!

Area 7 TCEA is accepting proposals for presenting at our annual TCEA Area 7 Technology Conference to be held June 11, 2010, in White Oak ISD at White Oak Middle School (just outside of Longview, TX).

Scheduled to be featured presenters are David Jakes, Christian Long, and Jennifer Wagner along with many great Texas educators.

Our local staff who were 2010 TCEA attendees are being asked to present at least one session at our conference sharing what they learned and implemented. Maybe you are asking your teachers to do the same in your district, and this is their chance to present to others. We already have sessions lined up for iPads, wikis, learning spaces, tools for the primary teachers (Wii IWB’s), and Google Apps. But we need more!

Want to present?

The session might be a round table discussion about how to use different technologies in the classroom now and in the future, or it can demonstrate how you have used technology with your students, campus, or district this year. We would love more sessions on opensource software use, electronic portfolios, technology assessment (both educator and student), core area technology integration, elementary technology sessions, remote hosting/cloud computing, classes that have switched to electronic textbooks, and more.

Since we have all levels of educators that attend (admin, network directors, multiple grade levels, multiple levels of experience, etc), you can present on pretty much any tech topic at any level of expertise. If you presented at TCEA in Austin this year, submitted a proposal to submit (that did not get accepted), or are working on one to present at 2011 TCEA, feel free to use that same session in Area 7 for our conference. We anticipate having 50 minute sessions with 250 attendees.

We have a web form created for you to submit your session proposal online. This helps us organize the conference much easier than paper. We need to have your submission within the next three weeks in order for us to get our programs created and printed. We ask that you have everything submitted no later than the end of the school day on May 21, 2010. You will find the form here: http://spreadsheets.google.com/a/woisd.net/viewform?hl=en&formkey=dDhIUFhVWUtHTHJmX3hyRE9uWDVOYmc6MA

Want to attend?

If you are interested in just attending the event, that is okay, too.  Registration is $25 for members and $30 for non-members (gets them one year of TCEA membership), and it includes the conference, luncheon, a vendor area, and a chance at plenty of door prizes. Go to the Area 7 Events page on the TCEA site for registration information.  I also have updated information in the Area 7 Tech Conference Moodle located at http://moodle.tcea.org/area7conference/  There you will find an agenda, session listings (as they come in), vendor information, registration information, directions, and any updates to the conference including presenter handouts and archived information from previous years.  We will have on-site registration at the same $25/$30 rate as well, but we prefer at least a heads-up on your anticipated attendance so that we can have plenty of promo bags and lunch for everyone.

We look forward to a great conference on June 11th and hope to have your participation. Email me for more information – floyds@woisd.net