Friday, March 23, 2012

2012 AISF Conference Reflections

Today I presented on the topic of 21st Century Learning as part of the 2012 Association of Independent Schools of Florida (AISF) Conference at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center. The presentation included 18 different web 2.0 tools for educators to consider incorporating into their classrooms. Some of the presentation slides with the 18 web tools are included on a google presentation link here. There was tremendous enthusiasm and passion from the educators/administrators/principles who attended. I want to briefly reflect on the presentation.

When I was originally planning my presentation a number of thoughts occurred: While some educators may have already been familiar with 21st Century learning and web tools, others participants would be sitting down and learning about 21st century learning concepts for the first time. In addition the participants would range from veteran educators to new educator. How would I engage this group and captivate them the entire time? On the other hand this wasn't merely an academic presentation on the theories of education technology integration with educators debating my every word. The attendees signed up because they wanted to learn.

So I decided to categorize the web tools into 4 different sections; critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity. (I simply did not have the time to discuss cross-cultural understanding.) After presenting each category I would ask the educators to break into small groups of 3 and 4 and have a brief conversation on how these tools could be incorporated into their classrooms be it through assessment, activities and etc. I also created a back channel on TodaysMeet for educators to use during the presentation.

So how did everything turn out? For starters I didn't end up using my Todaysmeet back channel because no-one brought a laptop. That was ok though because the group I had was definitely engaged and very much on learning mode. I noticed some web tools presented captivated the crowd and people instantly appreciated them. Amongst the big hits were Edmodo, Voki, Glogster, Prezi and Classdojo. Other tools would need more time for educators to 'marinate on' until they could fully appreciate them and unleash their potential. I also made an 'executive desicion' to have2 break out groups instead of 4 due to time restrictions and to allow the group time to transition to their next presenter. I must note the participants really liked alternating between frontal lecturing and group learning and being actively engaged in their learning. Student-centered learning works for educators too! (Seriously though- how many times have we gone to presentations and been bored to tears from passive learning and non-stop lecturing!)

Overall I received very positive feedback from many of the educators who attended my presentation. A few mentioned they were going to immediately incorporate Voki and Glogster into upcoming units. Their words brought about a digital symphony to my 21st Century ears!