PLP Live 2012 - Inspire. Collaborate. Shift.
Planning a successful conference requires hard work, patience and the forethought on how to provide a unique experience for all participants and presenters. That’s why this year, Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) decided to change the traditional conference format and think outside the box.  The first thing they did was bring a diverse panel of keynoters that was comprised of over 50% females.  PLP’s co-founder, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, has previously spoken about the “lack of gender diversity in the ed tech space.” She therefore wanted to make sure that at PLP’s conference, there were diverse ideas and presenters, which included numerous female keynoters.

At the conclusion of the rapid fire keynotes, participants were given the opportunity to ‘mingle and munch’ in casual conversation with the keynote speakers and breakout session facilitators. During this unique lunch experience, participants were able to ask questions, share ideas and discuss the issues.  This was followed by an afternoon full of interactive workshops around the three conference theme strands of “Inspire, Collaborate and Shift”.

After the conference, I asked a few participants if they could share their thoughts on the day’s events and speakers.  All of the participants really enjoyed John Seely Brown’s inspiring opening keynote and thought he set a good tone for the day.  Below you will find some of their favorite quotes and memories from his presentation:

Larry Kahn loved his message about “the vital importance of play and tinkering” and Becky Bair appreciated his discussion about “STEM being less about memorizing equations and more about tinkering and discovery“. Gerald Aungst was inspired when John talked about “imagination being when you take something strange and craft the context in which the strange now seems self-evident“. Gerald thought there were “so many applications for this idea, both within the curriculum and classroom, in the process of building an education system, and in the larger world (as we are all constructors)”. Peter Skillen enjoyed John’s discussion about how “the context of learning is just as important as the content” and how “learning is more about the ambient culture than it is about explicit teaching”. Peter thought, “as educators, this was essential for all of us to understand.  If we structure our classroom environments thoughtfully and with the realization that the ambiance and overall gestalt has great impact on learning, it’s not so different from Marshall McLuhan’s ideas that the ‘medium is the message’.”

Douglas Green was an active tweeter throughout the conference and enjoyed sharing John’s inspiring words with everyone.  Some of Douglas’ favorite tweets from John’s opening keynote were:

The participants also enjoyed how Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Will RichardsonJackie GersteinRenee MooreSuzie Boss, Darren CambridgeBruce Dixon, and Jane Krauss kept the excitement alive and how knowledge flowed during their rapid fire keynotes.  Marsha Ratzel really liked the rapid-fire presenters and their common theme and vision for “what the future of education should look like“.  Peter Skillen described the rapid fires as “delicious, a scrumptious potpourri of desserts following such a filling first course!”  Larry Kahn also enjoyed “seeing so many quality keynotes in the morning” and “appreciated the number of women keynoters”.  He felt this was important because “their perspective is missing from too many 21st century learning conferences“.

Participants enjoyed how the learning and inspiration never stopped and they were even actively engaged throughout lunch! When participants were asked what intrigued or surprised them most at PLP Live, participants weren’t short on answers.  Sister Gerayln Schmidt loved how “it didn’t matter where on the globe you were from (as there were educators from all around the globe as presenters and facilitators)“.  She strongly felt that everyone there had a “love of learning, passion for education and a desire to connect person to person” and that “heart to heart is the cornerstone of what education means today!” Gerald Aungst enjoyed knowing that “he was not alone” and found inspiration from sometimes the most simple things shared during the day.  For example, Bruce Dixon quoted Seymour Papert regarding computers as “an instrument whose music is ideas.” Gerald loved how “this one idea was profound and yet simple“.  Becky Bair was also moved by PLP’s keynoters and felt their ideas “supported the efforts she and her teammates are making to establish a child-centered classroom environment in a public school setting“.  So whether it was John Seely Brown’s discussion about “STEM not being about memorizing equations, but tinkering and discovery” to Jackie Gerstein’s conversations on how “we are crushing a lot of kids’ spirits with standardization”, she was moved.  In fact she was so fascinated by Bruce Dixon’s principles and foundations for a contemporary learner and school that she said she “would LOVE to teach in a school based on his principles“.

Overall, the new conference format was a huge success and one PLP was proud to offer to educators and school leaders.  Nancy Caramanico was appreciative and inspired with all of the “advice revolving around empowering students to be the best that they can be and examples of how others work with dedication to make that happen“. Larry Kahn also thought “PLPLive demonstrated just how much quality learning can take place at a one day conference.” We completely agree that PLPLive was a day of active learning and shifting of thoughts on education today.  We were happy to hear our goals for PLPLive were met and others enjoyed this productive day and our unique conference format. Becky Bair best described this day of learning with this statement: “I think the format of PLP Live is what made it stand out. I have been to a TEDx event, and I love the format of all of the mini-keynotes but sitting and listening all day long can get a bit old, even with great speakers. I have never been to a conference where I could actually participate in the discussions, like we did in the afternoon, and do things I could take back to the classroom. That learning/application piece made the day extremely worthwhile. Even as a presenter I learned new things from the people who came to my station and they pushed my thinking about what I do in my classroom.


Visit Powerful Learning Practice on Facebook for more pictures and presenter materials & resources from PLPLive.

Did you miss PLPLive and the opportunity to start transforming your teaching and learning?

Join us for Powerful Learning Practice ‘Lite’ in January for 12 weeks of connected learning. This eCourse will take you from “What is 21st Century learning and why is it important?” to “How do I create a 21st Century classroom or school?” Click here for more information and to register now.

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Christen Dodd

Christen is a Connected Learning Specialist for PLP. After earning her MEd. in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Virginia, she began her career as a K-5 Computer Resource Teacher. She enjoyed collaborating with staff and creating technology lessons that engaged students, but caught “the bug” for presenting to educators on a national level. For eleven years, Christen trained educators both face-to-face and virtually with Verizon Thinkfinity. She also served as their Distance Learning Coordinator and Vice President of Professional Development. Christen has enjoyed working with Powerful Learning Practice since 2011 and continuing her work with educators, parents and students alike. Currently, she is also an instructional technology specialist at her children's JK-8 Catholic school.

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