Educon 2.4: Connecting and Reconnecting

I am, at this moment, the epitome of the blogger.  I’m in my pj’s.  I’m in Educon recovery mode.  Apparently, some of my Twitter friends are as well.  I’ve seen a number of people talking about being in pj’s or being exhausted, etc.  This was my 3rd Educon.  It’s my second as a K-12 educator.  I’m really starting to feel like I’m a part of this group of people.  Last year, I wrote about how a few people felt excluded or left out.  I didn’t see or feel any of that this year even though many of the same people were there.  Interestingly, I started off my conference yesterday with a discussion about being mainstream vs. being on the margins.

Educon always makes you think.  From the opening panel, which this year had the fabulous photographer Zoe Strauss on it, to the very last session, which for me was about implementing Chromebooks, the whole conference is all about forcing your brain to run on all cylinders.  Instead of saying what I learned, I’m going to pose some questions that have come up for me.

The theme of the conference was about sustaining innovation.  In the panel and in many sessions, we kept talking about how to define innovation.  I still don’t know what the answer is for our schools or for education, so that’s a looming question.

What does it mean to be mainstream? Is it a bad thing? What about being on the margins?  Do we need to bring those people into the mainstream or can they exist on the margins and we can just accept that?

What components of “traditional” education are worth keeping and what can go?  Do we have to get rid of some of those things in order to make room for innovation work?

How can K-12 institutions and Higher Ed work together? Can we/should we make more transparent our practices?  Where can we build partnerships that are authentic and useful and mutually beneficial?

When are we going to teach computing/computer science in a way that isn’t so “nerdy”?  And when are we going to see more women stepping up to be involved in CS education?

We are all agonizing over what the “next device” is, and so what we should invest our money in.  Are we selling out to Apple and Google by using their devices and apps? And should we be worried about that?  Should we have just one device in our schools? Or can we have multiple?

And just to point you to some resources and interesting things:

ds106–a course and a community, one way of bridging the gap between K-12 and Higher Ed

modkit–an online programming tool for microcontrollers like arduino

A keynote about Chromebooks

For more, search for Educon.

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