I just booked my flight to Shanghai for the Learning 2.011 conference Sept 8 – 10th!

Once again, I am super excited to be a cohort leader at this innovative and engaging conference. Over the last 4 years, I’ve been to all three of the Learning 2.0 events, each one better than the last. In general, I’m not too big of a conference fan. Lots of sitting around listening to people talk about what we should be doing, but not a lot of actually doing what we’re talking about. Learning 2.0 is different, and that’s what I love about it.

This conference is so fantastic, thanks to the newly developed cohort format (which I love) and the consistently amazing group of presenters they manage to bring together every year, that I want to make sure I’m not the only one from YIS who gets to attend. All too often it’s just the technology leaders at a school that attend technology conferences. And, as much as I love going (thank you Learning 2.0 team for inviting me again!), I want to make sure that it’s not only the technology department attending this year. Here’s why:

Making Connections

As much as I love Japan (and I do!) we are very isolated here. Although there are many, many international schools in Tokyo (and around Japan), for the most part, they are still fairly traditional. And because life here is so easy and wonderful, people don’t really tend to look outwards for inspiration or new ideas. Being so physically isolated can also mean that it’s difficult to bring in new and fresh ideas into the school community.

Thanks to my amazing PLN, I continue to feel very well connected and I would love for more of our YIS teachers to experience that same kind of ongoing, relevant and exciting learning environment. Even though it’s possible to build a PLN from a distance, it’s so much more fun to meet in real-life, and certainly so much more eye-opening to see and hear about what other schools are doing in a face-to-face conversation.

Shared Inspiration

The highlight of every conference is the people. And the Learning 2.0 team does an exceptional job of bringing together some pretty brilliant minds every year. The beginning of the year is the perfect time for our YIS teachers to be inspired by the most innovative educational leaders from Asia and around the world. Experiencing new ideas and new ways of thinking as team (and not just one or two individuals) will give us a common understanding and clear reference-point to bring new ideas back to our school environment.

Combined Impact

Ideally, sending one teacher from each department will help spread the learning from the conference much farther and deeper than I can do on my own. Plus, we all know how much more powerful an idea is when it comes from another teacher in your subject area or grade level. This will also help us build teacher-leaders in many different areas of the school. Of course, we can all work together to help build a common understanding of what types of learning we would like to see in our school. Our team can become the technology PD leaders for the school, collaborating and sharing our learning throughout the entire year.

So, despite the amazing amount of tech-related PD we already have in the works for YIS next year, I’ve put together a short proposal to send a team to Learning 2.0, thanks to Jabiz’ inspiration a few weeks ago.

Learning 2.011 Teacher Team Proposal

Goal: Send a team of teachers to the conference, with at least a portion paid by YIS.

Team Members: teachers who have shown an interest in pushing their understanding of how technology can enhance learning.

Expectations: All team members will:

  • monitor, document and reflect on their learning as a group.
  • use Twitter hashtags to document conference learning.
  • reflect on their daily learning and thoughts using a blog.
  • use Google Docs to share resources, links, and ideas for others teachers back at school.
  • collaboratively bookmark using Diigo to share resources with the team and teachers back at school
  • share their learning with their departments and other teachers upon return by:
    • leading a PD session on what they learned (e.g. SpeedGeeking).
    • become a point-person for technology within their department.
    • host a labsite session for their department (or mixed departments) based on what they’ve learned.

Final Thoughts

What I really like about this simple proposal is that it’s not just getting the school to send a few lucky teachers to a great event. It’s all about bringing back the energy and enthusiasm from that shared experience to the rest of our colleagues. If we plan this right, we can:

  • extend the learning from one weekend in September throughout the year,
  • highlight a different teacher and subject-area at a number of practical internal professional development sessions,
  • help build a collaborative peer-mentoring process for so many of our teachers that will be new to a 1:1 learning environment (as we begin our Connected Learning Community in August in grades 6-12),
  • continue several successful professional development delivery models to meet different learning needs, and
  • develop teacher leaders for technology throughout the school.

I think it could be really powerful for the whole school. And I’m pretty excited.

What do you think? Is it useful to bring a whole team of teachers to a conference? Is it worth attending conferences at all any more? Have I missed any other advantages? Who are you bringing to Learning 2.011?

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4 thoughts on “See You in Shanghai!

  1. Hey Kim,

    Looking forward to see who you guys bring. I cannot wait to “meet” them online through Twitter and blogs before the conference and then to solidify those connection in person. It is looking like we are bringing six people, from across departments as you mentioned.

    I am very much looking forward to watching them really understand the power and magic of the existing relationships many of us in the Asian International School already have and beyond. It would be great to bring back the Blog Alliance idea early in the year next year and help our staff connect early and solidify throughout the year.

    I will write more on these ideas soon, but I am also hoping of writing up an MYP unit plan for what it is that the teachers want to learn at the conference. I hope that our team can come up with a guiding questions, a few ISTE standards to meet, a guide for self-assessments and perhaps even criterion by which to judge learning. I hope to show attendees that they are now students/learners in charge of their own learning.

    If it works, I would love to guide our entire tech PD using this model. Like I said more on that soon.

    In conclusion, let’s be in touch early next year about what this could look like, as I think that Clint from UNIS would be interested in planned connections. Of course it would be great for several schools to meet up once we are there.

  2. Although I was hoping for a slightly bigger turnout, we’ve got 5 teachers from across the school signed up for Learning 2.011. I love Jabiz’s “conference team” idea and I think you’ve done a great job of setting out expectations for that team. In addition, I think I will try to get a Blog Alliance cohort going, made up mostly of those teachers attending the conference. Just another tool to add to their arsenal when communicating back to school.

    Can’t wait to see you there!
    Clint Hamada´s last blog post ..Blogging Tip- Subscribe to a Specific Category

  3. Kim,
    Hi, I am a student of Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class at The University of South Alabama. I love your post about how these conferences should involve more teachers that share an interest in “pushing their understanding of how technology can enhance learning”. It would be awesome for more teachers to get to experience what very few do. Learning 2.011 sounds like an amazing thing. Experiencing new ideas from all over the world to bring back to other teachers and classrooms sounds like an opportunity that you can not pass up! I really enjoyed reading about your experiences and hope to read more! Thank you.

    Take Care,
    Sarah Nelson

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