This past Monday evening, at 7pm Bangkok time, the ISB Learning Hub team (including our fabulous admin team: Annelies, Struan, and our superstar tech coordinators: Justin and Dennis) got “geeked” as we watched the pre-conference keynote of 2007 K12Online Conference here in our fabulous Learning Hub:

We started by watching the 2006 keynote presentation by David Warlick to get us ready (and to pass the time while we waited for the 2007 keynote, also by David Warlick, to download), all the while taking notes and discussing how we can bring these kinds of 21st century literacy skills into our classrooms here at school. The amazing thing about the keynote, was that while we were here in Bangkok discussing what we were learning, we were also connecting with our colleagues all over the world, via both the backchannel chat that David set up, and Twitter.

I love being a part of these conversations to confirm my beliefs and to stretch my thinking. It is so empowering to feel part of a network of learners that stretches beyond the people I spend every day with. A while back I wrote a post about feeling isolated as an international school teacher (as I am so very often the only teacher in my department for my grade level), but in the last year, beginning with the K12Online 2006 conference, all of that started to change.

Once I began making the connections, through the use of these fabulous web 2.0 tools, I realized that my colleagues are not only here in Bangkok, but also in Korea, Qatar, the Dominican Republic, Singapore, China, the UK, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, all over the United States and Canada, the list could go on and on (and clearly I need to update my blogroll…). And thanks to my personal learning network, and the constant connection, collaboration and creativity they inspire I am learning around the clock!

Sometimes it’s hard to stop and reflect on all this learning, so here’s a start: my notes from the Pre-Conference keynote and from the Fireside Chat. No time to waste as the first of the presentations are starting today!

Notes from the K12Online Keynote

  • In the 21st Century we learn by teaching each other, we learn by sharing what we’ve discovered.
  • Side trips were the definition of my education.
  • There are no boundaries any more – walls are coming down – putting kids in contact with what they’re learning about.
  • Teachers and students are looking for new boundaries, to find traction to move forward: A common context to work together and accomplish individual goals and shared goals
  • Educating a generation without boundaries is not going to work – our task is to find/invent the new boundaries.
  • Resourcefully create boundaries to go where we need to go – traditional boundaries are going away, we need to be resourcefully inventing, creating boundaries to move forward.
  • I had no reason to believe that my job as a teacher would change for the rest of my life. It would have been impossible for me to predict that my future would look like this.
  • Last generation looking at their parents and believing they are seeing the future. Our kids know that things are changing so fast that they don’t know how they will be making a living in the future.
  • School used to prepare students for their future
  • Freelance workers, free agent educators, maybe a better model for the future.
  • For the first time in history we are preparing our students for a future we can not describe.
  • The children who are in our classrooms are not the students who we think we’re teaching.
  • They are not natives in a land that is in anyway stable – their journey continues, they have grown into these technologies,
  • Digital immigrant is not an excuse – it is to get rid of our accent, our children are doing this by accepting that technologies have continued to grow, and they pay attention, they celebrate and adapt to the change
  • They learn because they’re part of a network, they’re connected, they may not know how to do something but they have a community they can learn from.
  • The real digital divide is that some people are part of a network, part of a community, learning together, collaborating, power in the community – the others are alone, there is no power there.
  • Power in the community, there is power in learning together.
  • Networked children have “alien” powers: can see and hear through walls (cell phones, texting, etc)
  • College students never have to say goodbye when they go off to college – because they carry their friends in their pocket
  • Games, social networking teach children how to collaborate, how to work in a team
  • We want our students to be the children we want to teach, rather than teaching the children that they are – this is an insult to our children (27 min in)
  • The nature of information has changed – information landscape used to be hard, unchanging, ever-lasting, expensive to produce so we wanted it to last.
  • How we use, find information, how it flows, what we can do with information has changed: Information is becoming increasingly networked, digital, overwhelm, participatory, reader directed, information often comes directly from the author – without benefit of traditional gatekeepers like librarian or publisher.
  • Other skills just as critical to literacy: find appropriate info, evaluate information, organize information into personal digital libraries
  • What happens when all information is made out of numbers? what happens to arithmetic – numbers now apply to the full range of content, and we’re overwhelmed with information. We need to decide what information we’re going to use
  • Being literate involves producing an information product and message that competes for attention in the same way that products on a store shelf competed for attention in the industrial age.
  • Our notions of what it means to be literate must also change.
  • Where do I want to be 10 years from now? How able am I to do the things I want to do? What can I do today to prepare myself for that future?
  • Health: we still need human bodies to carry us from place to place.
  • Information is independent of time and space: we can be disconnected at one individual moment, but still be connected
  • Today we can reshape information
  • Students can be re-mixers of content, provoking more important learners – it is so much in the grasp of those of us who are paying attention
  • Used to want a hilly classroom : teachers up high, learners down low – gravity drives curriculum
  • Our students are now publishers (57% of teenagers have produced original content and published it on the Internet, and engaged in conversations with their viewers – how many of their teachers have done the same?) – from perspective of their information experience, many of our children are more literate than their teachers
  • Our classrooms are flat: how do we drive learning and curriculum when we can no longer rely on gravity
  • Three conditions converging on our classroom, we tried to avoid, contain, block them out
  • Best thing for us to do is realize that these 3 converging conditions can become new boundaries off of which, we can gain traction
  • They are:
  1. We are preparing a generation of students that are info and tech savvy, know how to play the information, but they don’t know how to work the information, they need us to help them work the information. These kids that are coming to us from an information experience that is far richer, far more personal than anything we have in class – there is energy in that. We need that energy to help us teach and learn without gravity. Kids energy comes from their intrinsic need to communicate, to share their personal experience and identity, to ask questions, to accomplish things, form and participate in communities, to invest themselves, to safely make mistakes, to earn audience and attention. There is enormous energy there that we can tap into.
  2. New information landscape, networked, digital, overwhelming, participatory, flows and unflows, connects and re-connects. There are opportunities to create experiences for our students where they are working responsibly, sharing themselves and collaborating, within the context of the curriculum.
  3. First time in history we are preparing our kids for a unimaginable future. The best thing we can be teaching our children today is to teach them how to teach themselves.

Notes from the Fireside Chat

  • Regarding games, if parents get scared about kids spending too much time on their games, they will overreact – at least from the kids perspective, and then the children will be less likely to continue a dialog with their parents about this topic. The dialog between parents and children is so important that you don’t want to loose that simply by overreacting.
  • Pay attention to how students learn, and teach them in that way. Kids should be telling the story of what they’re learning, how they’re learning, right now – “give a megaphone to our students.” Get out of the way and listen to our students and they’ll tell us what they need – Sheryl
  • Teaching helps you learn – students teaching students/teachers helps them take learning even deeper.
  • “Teachers should be the directors of learning, not the teachers” – Arthus, 14 year old student
  • 21st century teacher should be a master learning – demonstrate what learning is about, not what teaching is about
  • Learners are leaders – leading their own future and the others around them. Learners must respect each other, and be respectable – critical that any notion of literacy include the ethical use of information, ethical practice and habit of learning.
  • Any classroom where students are not using digital, networked information, is not acceptable, that teacher is not teaching, they are not preparing students for the future. It is not an option anymore.
  • Classrooms need to be about new kinds of conversations. Students need to learn how to engage in conversations about learning with people in their world – around the world – that are creatively crafted by their teachers, to learn what they need to learn. By creating those conversations, and engaging in their learning in a networked way, they are learning authentically.
  • What’s new, now, is the conversations that are happening. These are the conversations that are the key to learning.

For those of you that were unable to attend on Monday night, don’t despair! All of the conference events are posted on the conference blog and will be available permanently – you can even go back and watch all of the presentations from last year!

Check out these links to get you started:

And, just in case you are still wondering why you should attend this (free, online, just in time, amazing) conference, take a listen to this fabulous podcast by Chris Betcher and you’ll be geeking out before you know it!

Technorati tags: k12online07, k12online07pc

4 thoughts on “Key Notes from the K12Online Pre-Conference Keynote

  1. How many of the students are sufficiently conscious of their learning needs to be able to tell us? Is it enough to get out of the way, or do we also have to facilitate the conversation, provide them with a context for becoming more conscious of their needs? I like what you said about 21st century teachers needing to be master learners rather than master teachers – and I think it ties in with my question: do we need to help the kids tell us what they need?

    In Alan November’s latest podcast, Professor Angela McFarlane of Bristol University talks about this idea that if teachers only get out of the way, students will use the technology to maximize their learning (my paraphrasing), and argues strongly that this is a myth. I know I’ve been guilty of this claim in the past – it’s simplistic, I guess. It’s so easy to make assumptions and parrot what everyone else is saying, rather than taking a good look for yourself and collecting your own data. I’m becoming more and more convinced of the value of data gathering and analysis as a tool for decision-making in schools, and not just for academic research.

    Professor McFarlane says students that know how to use technology to play are not necessarily able to transfer these skills to learning, but need teachers to provide the guidance and scaffolding. I wonder if this to some extent applies to the idea of expecting students tell us what they need. It’s important to know the difference between what kids say the are doing and what they’re actually doing – students tend to tell us what they think we want to hear rather than what they actually think. I’m worried many students don’t really know what they want or what they need in order to learn, as their ideas of what education is (or should be) have been shaped by what they’ve always experienced.

    Okay, I guess to some extent I’m just parroting Professor McFarlane now, and I may also be a bit unfair in putting Sheryl’s comment into a very narrow context. My intention is not to criticize, just to use it as a springboard for further reflection.

    Finally, your job title intrigues me: “21st Century Literacy Specialist” – is it predominantly a curricular job, or do you work closely with Dennis and Justin on a daily basis? It’s really impressive for a school to devote a full-time position to this. Or do you also teach?


  2. Hm, part of the comment disappeared – I tried to include a quote, but must have mis-typed the tag. Anyways, it still seems to make sense as I refer explicitly to Sheryl’s point.

    Just listening to the fireside chat again – to be fair to Sheryl’s point, she’s actually summarizing/paraphrasing what David was saying, and he is exploring ways in which teachers can facilitate discussions with students to get them to tell us in their own words how they learn, so that we can learn from this how to arrange for this kind of learning in the classroom.

    There’s a certain level of trust needed to ensure that students know we really mean it – that we sincerely want to know what they think/feel they need and that we want to act on this.

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