Apple Conference – very boring leadership strand!

I failed to mention that I had registered for the Leadership Strand of ITSC. The conference offers a range of quality strands, and having spoken to some of my colleagues, the overall impression seems to be that there is something worth learning in all the strands so far.

I did have a chat with some good leaders taking part in my strand – a quiet chat – because so far we have not really had anything worth dragging us away from our busy schedules. While I enjoyed Stephanie’s talk – I could just as easily have missed it, as the message was pitched at those who are still coming to understand the changes in our digital world.

Hopefully all those registered for the Leadership Strand are awake to this fact! Nice to see StudyWiz. Nice to meet with other colleagues. Nice to hear some things they are doing in diverse parts of Australia. Seen it before at other conferences. All nice. All good. But as far as ‘leadership’ goes – NOT INSPIRING. NOT CHALLENGING. JUST PLAIN BORING.

I dread boredom – thank goodness for wireless access and the opportunity to multi-thread my own actions and my own learning.

Tomorrow may be better as Greg Whitby will head off the leadership strand tomorrow. His message at the end of the day was to assure us that he will turn our thinking on its head. ……. Not mine – I work with Greg!!

But at least I might have some fun watching some other leaders squirm OR we will actually engage in some really searching dialogue in response to the challenges that he will put before us.

By the way, can you possibly explain to me how come there is no apparent co-ordination of live blogging of the event? How in a Web 2.0 world are there so many people at an Apple Conference taking notes on paper? How is it that there is not an agreed ‘tag’ to identify outputs from the 3-day conference? And tomorrow we are going to ‘discuss’  how to share information?? Why aren’t we bursting with ideas after one day?  Why aren’t we sharing our images as we go, by posting on Flickr and using the same shared tag? Why aren’t we sharing with the global network rather than deciding how WE are going to share with each other. Some of these things I would understand for a ‘normal’ conference – but would expect more from Apple.  These comments of course only apply to my strand. Perhaps it is the esoteric nature of ‘leadership’ discussions that is the issue.

This is just all ‘so yesterday’!  so far.  Tommorrow might be the direct opposite. I hope so :-)

Apple Conference – StudyWiz

Study Wiz is a virtual learning environment for schools, designed to make e-learning intuitive, and practical for students, teachers and parents.

Stephanie Hamilton asked: “How do I provide flexibility in learning – the sandbox of creativity – when I also want to provide managed secure spaces for our students, with managed and collaborative learning environments?”.

StudyWiz has just been released, and the interface offers a highly intuitive and ‘encouraging’ interface – coupled with a host of Web 2.0 tools for interactive learning. For example, a blogging tool, and a podcasting tool allows the best of e-learning. There is much more. This is an Australian product, being marketed to the world – and a current favourite of Apple.
Pick up a brochure outlining the features of StudyWiz. Even if you are not going to use the product, use the features of StudyWiz to evaluate the directions of your own learning management system.

Stephanie explained that today’s challenge is creating a 21st century learning environment that engages students…and prepares them for life and success in the 21st century. StudyWiz might be another step in the right direction for you. No matter whether you use a product such as this, or use Web 20 online products exculsively – the thing to remember is the multiple needs of the students and the total flexibilty needed.

Cost? Open source? International Standards? SCORM based? (You need to be able to share flexibly).

Can you track how long a student worked on an assignment? Can you track the conversation? Can you capture the dialogue happening? With real data, you have much more powerful ways of creating learning goals and engaging parents in the conversation. This is REAL formative assessment 24/7, in a multi-threaded learning world of our students.

The greatest power of products such as these is for promoting reflection by the teacher. We have to reflect on what it is we are doing, what it is we are asking, and what it is we are explaining!! Our minds all work differently, and until we acknowledge this, we will not make progress in 21st century learning.

Apple Conference – Sydney

Keynote Speaker, Stephanie Hamilton (who joined Apple in 2000 and leaving Austin Independent School District, designing and building 21st century learning environments for 110 schools) and presented the opening session of Apple’s 17th Innovative Technology Schools Conference.

Stephanie provided the ususal inspirational talk that sprang from that important message that we are all trying to communicate to our teachers and school leaders:

  • The only constant in life is….. CHANGE
  • Lifelong learning implies…..CHANGE
  • The road to the 21st century school is paved with ….CHANGE

She addressed all aspects of this change: changing technology; changing learners; and a changing world.

She asked “when you produce a really long document in wordprocessing, do you print it out for proofreading?” A groan of recognition hit us all – yes, we are indeed digital immigrants.

So we are working within a timeshifted world – even out technology tools have radically changed. Kids today have bypassed email, at a time when teachers are just catching up. “Email is so yesterday”! ! Yet how often do we allow students in schools to use IM. Schools still ban mobiles, and “that’s like holding back a tsunami by holding up your hand”!!

How do we take these technologies and make use of them? It is about the difference in the way we learn versus the way technologies are facilitating THEIR learning.

What is their (learning) nature?
Creative, Mobile, Multitasking, Collaborative, Productive

They are prolific writers, but we just don’t know about it, because we don’t move in the spaces they move. They demonstrate these learning characteristics, but we don’t always see it (think MySpace etc) Yet these elements are what a good employer will be looking for, and are checking profiles online as part of the employment process!
They naturally enjoy multi-tasking – today we are more likely to call this ADD. Is this the new normal?
The issue is we need to look at when it works for them, and when it works against them.

Think of there learning as ‘multi-threaded’. We approach them on one dimension, yet they have receptors to take in information on 4 dimensions! We are missing opportunities to communicate with them. Look at the way they can learn – not how we can teach.

Stephanie quoted a figure from the American Library Association: By 2020 information will double every 15 minutes. How long are our teaching periods? What facts will we teach if the information doubles three times in that teaching period!
What a fantastically challenging concept!

For those currently engaged in this discussion via edublogs Stephanie did not actually present anything new, but she did provide an invigorating reminder that there are many aspects of the digital change that we must keep in mind, and provided a few nice points that we can use effectively when encouraging new digital immigrants!

A Final Point……………

Digital Native Learning Infrastructure…..incorporates…. keynote.jpg

          • Knowledge Creation and dissemination
          • Creative exploration
          • Highly collaborative, Interactive and Ad-Hoc
          • Software solutions are expressive
          • User/Student Centric
          • Total Opportunity of Ownership