The theme for the 2009 TCEA convention in Austin was "Accelerate Technology," obviously a play on the racing industry. So it was off to the race track for me. As I made my way down the isles of the exhibit hall, it was less acceleration and more of the same — clickers and whiteboards. Is that really all we have come to in accelerating education technology? Not that I have anything against clickers and whiteboards, but seriously moving to an electronic raise your hand or an electronic sage on the stage, surely there's more to teaching and learning with technology that that.
Smart boards, Orange boards, all the boards you need 2 know!
Accelerating technology with Office 2007.
It seemed to me that this year's conference was missing something. I'm not sure what it was, but there just wasn't the innovation and inspiring content that you see happening online in grassroots blogs and education communities. Even the sessions were some what of blast from the past. This session was one of my favorites, "How to Prepare My District or School for Office 2007. Well, it's now 2009, if they aren't prepared by now for 2007, it might be a little late. Bloggers Garage
I think the feedback from M. Guhlin says it best:
BLOGGERS' GARAGE FEEDBACK: Ok, not to be totally critical but...this Garage thing is a bust. First of all, the Garage is ALL the way at the end of the building away from Registration desk and where the escalators are. It's the perfect place to put the Bloggers Garage if you want to send the message, "WE DON'T LIKE BLOGGERS!" Now I know there's this stereotype that bloggers just sit around and write snarky comments, getting chubby and all that, and the exercise is probably good for us, but come on...this was just TOO FAR to walk. Read more.
This is what I found when I went there: (one woman sleeping on the couch)
I would have to agree that this one they got wrong.
TCEA could really learn how to pull this off from NECC's EduBloggerCon and NECC Unplugged Bloggers Cafe.
Buzzword Education Bingo Then there was the trend to pull out all the buzzwords. If you were at the show looking for a Standards Based Differentiated Instructional Data Driven Decision Making 21st Century Learning Inquiry-Based software application with alignment to TAKS/TEKS for individualized instruction, there were plenty to go around.
Not all of TCEA felt like "four more years," of the same. There were some great student projects using robotic applications and sessions that really pushed the instructional efforts in the classroom with the use of Web 2.0.
I came away from TCEA inspired by the students and their interest in creating, discovering and building their own knowledge. Projects like these robotics activities is what it's really all about. Give the students the tools, facilitate their learning and get out of the way. Forget the whiteboards and teaching down to the kids. Let them construct their own learning and ask questions. How did they come about buidling their project? What would they have done different? How can they apply this? Etc.
At this show, I decided I would not take my computer and capture much of the show using my mobile phone. I was very quickly able to capture images with Flickr, leave status updates using Twitter, and capturing live video feeds using Qik. With the use of these Web 2.0 apps, I was able to capture everything you see here. I believe that if teachers were given these types of tools and students were able to explore and capture their knowledge using these resources, they will surprise us all. I don't think the bloggers garage or the exhibit halls would be the same.
As the theme for next year rolls around, "Sailing to New Shores," my wish is to truly embrace the new and innovative teaching and learning models that you read about from teachers and bloggers online in places like Classroom 2.0 and elsewhere.
I truly believe that 2009/2010 will bring aboard many more teachers into the realm of online learning communities, virtual online courses, 3D virtual worlds, education gaming, video delivery formats, blogging and many of Web 2.0 applications for their students. I'm sure my summary for next year will be a very different story. Until then...