We’re fortunate to have one of Norway’s leading 21st century educators, Ann Michaelsen, serve on our Powerful Learning Practice advisory board. We enjoyed reading Ann’s reflection on her third ISTE conference (held this year in San Diego) and thought we’d share it here.

Ann is a globe-trekker. Earlier this year, she reported on her visit to Lesotho, Africa for our Voices from the Learning Revolution blog (where she writes regularly). And soon after leaving ISTE and San Diego, she found herself on the sunny beaches of Corsica, taking dips (she reports over Skype) in “the nice and warm clear blue Mediterranean ocean.” She’s also attended international conferences in Brazil and South Africa. There is something to be said for the physical world!

by Ann Michaelsen

I think this year’s ISTE12 was great. That said, I know not everyone will agree with me. If you followed the Twitter feed #iste12 you might know what I’m talking about. See, for example, Gary Stager on meaningless clichés.

What I do know is that meeting people face to face is what counts the most. It is great when you finally get to see those you have been following on Twitter for a long time. As member of the PLP gang, it is always fun to meet up with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and this year I got to meet Jenny Luca from Australia. Jenny and I had only communicated via Twitter but when we met it was as if we had been friends for a long time. We had lunch and made plans to do a project with our students next year. Shelley Wright, another PLP Voices blogger, also attended ISTE and has promised to participate as well. Look forward to seeing what exciting things might come from this connection.

This year I didn’t spend much time taking notes, and I didn’t have time to update my blog, but I did use Twitter to save useful websites and comments and that is my main source for writing this post. To quote jackiegerstein (a fellow PLP advisory board member): Twitter is the emancipation of teachers from the silos of isolation!

ISTE 2012 started with the keynote by Sir Ken Robinson and I thought it was great. On the 10.5 hour flight to San Diego I read the new revised version of his book Out of Our Minds. Many of the points he made on stage I recognized from the book. He was funny, entertaining and had many good points. I think we all wished ISTE had given more presentation time to Sir Ken and less to the promotion of ISTE and the panel discussion that followed. As you will see in this video it takes too long before he starts talking! Read some of the critical comments here.

Marc Prensky was not at all what I had expected (don’t ask) but it was fun to have seen him. I read his book “Digital Natives” and even if I don’t agree with the terminology and the idea that all young people are digital natives, there are many good ideas in his book that you can use in class.

The next keynote I attended was presented by University of Oregon professor Yong Zhao. I didn’t know anything about him before hearing him speak, and I was very impressed. Dr. Zhao is an internationally known scholar, author, and speaker. His works focus on the implications of globalization and technology on education. He has designed schools that cultivate global competence, developed computer games for language learning, and founded research and development organizations to explore innovative education models. The first thing I did after the keynote was to buy his book, Catching Up or Leading the Way. He has a new one out these days, but it’s not available on the Kindle yet. Take a look here to recapture the keynote, it is time well spent (scroll the time line to 54 minutes!). Some quotes from the lecture: “American education is not in decline, it’s always been bad.” “American schools don’t teach creativity but they kill it less successfully.”

On to the workshops!

The rest of the conference I pretty much went to the workshops I had planned to attend before I came. That way I end up listening to the people I follow on Twitter. Not the best way to expand my horizon (name of the ISTE conference this year, Expanding Horizons) but it is a pretty safe bet when content is a priority. This year my favorites were those highlighted below. I have not written a summary from each workshop, but offer links and quotes taken from my Twitter feed:

Alan November: When challenging students to collaborate with other schools in other countries he offers this advice: Use nation-specific Google searching to learn about other perspectives and get the other side of the story! Use Epals to connect classrooms ( teachers should connect classrooms globally to discuss books, he says, — what a great opportunity that is.) From Ewan McIntosh: Out of 400 people among the USA’s tech elite at ISTE, only four people have used twitter to connect to authentic on the ground experiences. Teachers should use Twitter to connect with interesting people outside the classroom. You should teach students how to use Twitter as a search engine! Digital natives, that’s a myth. Kids do not know how to use Google! Scary!

Chris Lehmann: I have written about Chris in previous posts. He is the principal at SLA in Philadelphia. His students and teachers are amazing and I really enjoyed visiting the school in January 2012. Here are some of the Twitter feeds from Chris and from his presentation. Personalization can’t mean we do same stuff at a different pace. Anyone who tries to sell you that, call them out! Inquiry isn’t us asking kids questions we know the answer to; but don’t just present blank page. Offer guided inquiry. See slides here. High Tech High publishes student work as PDFs and uploads them to Lulu where they can be bought as physical books. Study groups are essential to student learning. Exhibition as a critical piece of project-based learning at High Tech High. “Never fall in love with your curriculum to the point where you forget the children in front of you.

David Warlick Great source of infographics from Dwarlick. Here are some useful links: davidwarlick.com/graphicaday/. Google public data, great way to research ow.ly/1O8Vxv easel.ly create infographics. InfoGraphic a day, David Warlick ow.ly/1O8VKV. Co-learners a digital textbook of sorts.

Kevin Honeycutt I have written about Kevin in a previous post. I really wanted to invite him to Norway this November, but his calendar was already full! Hopefully we will see him in Oslo next year instead. Check out his web page — iPad users click here: kevinhoneycutt.org

Patrick Larkin and George Couros are two principals I have been following on Twitter for a long time. I hope to see them both at our conference in November. They are great examples of what principals could do to lead by example. They had a great presentation at ISTE and here are some of the links I found useful! Blockbuster Offers Glimpse Of Movie Renting Past – YouTube bit.ly/NymVt3. The Letter Every Apple Employee Gets On Their First Day bit.ly/LzSDep. Google Chrome: Make It Happen – YouTube bit.ly/MAnZ06. Now, after 30 years, you can carry all of this in your pocket. bit.ly/KR0ZJ3. Brand your school as a creative learning organization where every kid is unique and special. We don’t allow the teachers to grade student blogs… as soon as we grade the blog it becomes the teachers not the students. Texas hospital live-tweets brain surgery bit.ly/Jtigue. About the Learning Leader Project bit.ly/HgDH1H. Students as Blog Leaders bit.ly/yJskO. Social Media for Administrators #cpchat #iste12 bit.ly/KKg29l

Evernote: Web clipper for Evernote on the iPad ow.ly/bRMWn

Ewan McIntosh Ewan presented at our conference last year. This year his colleague Tom Barret will be presenting at our school in November . He had a great presentation where he showed how you can teach history, science, and a lot more using data! Data is all about telling a story. Ewan shows how to use gapminder and data. David McCandles ow.ly/1O9j6v information designer. Wordle should be used more to visualize data ow.ly/1O9jae. Set aside 20 minutes a week to search for cool stuff! Wear headphones and pretend you are doing something serious. BBC, how many really, comparing numbers ow.ly/bRXZc. Information is beautiful great web site ow.ly/1O9jDI. Freebase, everything under the sun visualized ow.ly/1O9jTq.

My poster session

Ingunn and I had a poster session Monday from 8-10. I don’t know if we really expected any visitors, but we were surprised. Many were interested in the topic 1:1 schools with block scheduling. I think we surprised many with our block scheduling from 08:30 to 1:10 pm each day! More info about session here, and my slides are here!

Helping teachers

Expanding horizons was the name of the conference. I think it captures the essence of what we are trying to accomplish in our classroom. To connect students with other students, writers, reporters and ordinary people leaving in different countries. That is the best way to learn about cultures, conflicts, religions and how people live in different parts of the world. Imagine teaching history, the Second World War, and connecting with people who live in Norway, Germany, France and Great Britain to discuss what happened. Or study indigenous people by connecting students in Australia, Alaska and Norway? To me it makes perfect sense. Laptops, iPads, computers and social media makes it both easy and doable.

Why then are so few teachers connecting to the world using Twitter and writing blogs? I hope they don’t imagine that the students are doing this without them? I think the answer is that it is too difficult. Everything is difficult if you don’t know how to do it. And it is equally difficult for the students. Forget digital natives. This is something we all need to learn! That is why listening to Alan November was so refreshing. He had great examples of what the teacher could do to connect. Let’s just hope those of us who were able to attend this year’s conference will go home to our schools and lead by example!

Let me end by this quote: Every teacher has the right to live in a cave, but they don’t have the right to drag their students in with them. (Tom Whitby). After spending 3 days with the world’s technology elite in education at ISTE 12, it is clear to me! It is time to change! It’s not about the technology but what you can accomplish with it in your classrooms and schools. It is about knowing the right people to follow and it is about connecting.

Most of all, it’s about showing your students what they can accomplish and guiding them. It really is about expanding horizons! Feel bad about not attending? Try to catch up by watching the ISTE’s You tube channel.

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Ann Michaelsen

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