Lessons From a Tech Savvy Education Conference 140edu Day 1

Since 2009, Jeff Pulver has been holding #140conf events in which speakers have only 10 to 20 minutes to discuss their topic. This week, the first #140edu conference was held in NYC in which educators, parents, students, administrators and anyone with a vested interest in education was given a platform to be heard and share their ideas on education and the Internet.

I was absolutely amazed by the #140edu conference. (The # is a hashtag used in Twitter for a group all tweeting about the same topic so that they can all find each other’s tweets). The passion of many of the speakers was infectious and I was only sad that everybody that has a say in education hadn’t been listening. While I would love to be able to summarize the entire event, I am going to have to narrow it down to some of my favorite speakers. See the bottom of the post for additional links.

Jack Hidary – Get Up and Move
Kids have told him that when they are in school, it is like going back in time. Technology is taken away and they use paper, pencils and books. They think it is done this way so that they will understand how their parents learned.

We need a new paradigm where education is not left only to the teacher. We all need to participate. That is why he created something like a Match.com for education called the National Lab Network. Scientists and techies have long wanted to participate in education but never knew how. Now teachers can go online to the NLN and list their projects and location and matches can be made. This must be scaled for in school, not after, to reach everyone.

Rebecca Levey – Parents are Partners not Pawns
Although Rebecca is a blogger, co-owner of KidzVuz and a NY State Delegate to the Mom Congress on Education and Learning, she spoke at #140edu as a PTA President. She has fantastic insight into public school issues and budgets, especially in NYC.

Parents need to get much more involved. They are the ones that need to speak out on behalf of schools because they have the power that those within the system don’t. Parents are voters, they need to understand that this empowers them and that they can challenge the system. If parents come together, they are the true lobby for their kids. Instead of holding fundraisers, lobby for more government money for your kid’s school.

Parents need more opportunities to see what their kids are learning. Parents want to be informed. Parents are also an untapped resource in educating students. Parents with specialties can come into the classroom and share their knowledge.

Lisa Nielsen – Connecting School Life to Real Life
Lisa writes one of my favorite education blogs, The Innovative Educator. I love that she always writes about topics that interest me and at the #140edu conference, I strongly agreed with everything she said. The points that she passionately made were:

  • Education should be Customized, not Standardized. Standardized tests serve no purpose.
  • Teachers need to learn what students are interested in and personalize lesson plans.
  • We need to think about Passion Driven Learning.
  • We don’t fill out worksheets in real life, why do so in school?
  • Instead of having students write book reports, why not have them write a book review on Amazon?
  • We need to give students the freedom to learn through social media and stop banning it in school.
  • We need to give students a voice and the tools they need to change the world.

Adam Bellow – The Tech Commandments – Ways we can revitalize education using technology
The first day of this two-day conference had already been great when Adam Bellow, founder and president of eduTecher, took the stage in the afternoon. He rocked the house. He shared a 140 slide PPT presentation in 15 minutes and it was fascinating. Standing Ovation. I’ll share as much as I can.

  • There shouldn’t be computer labs. With mobile technology, computers should be everywhere.
  • Don’t treat technology as a special program like art or gym. It should be fully integrated into all learning.
  • Training for teachers needs to be constant, a priority and supported.
  • Don’t buy new technology without support. It is throwing away money.
  • Any teacher that could be replaced by a computer, should be.
  • Taking cell phones away from kids in school is so wrong. They can get such use from them. They are computers.
  • AAD – Acronyms are dangerous.
  • Kids are using the websites we block, such as YouTube and Facebook, anyway. Schools should teach them about how to use them safely.
  • Teachers must be life-long learners – Teachers have to learn to use 21st century tools to teach 21st century kids.
  • We are raising the cut and paste generation.
  • Teach kids to be good digital citizens.
  • When a tool dies, new ones come around to take its place. Teachers must roll with the flow.
  • Collaboration is a 21st Century skill and we get the best of it on social media websites like Twitter and YouTube.
  • Administrators, teachers, students and parents should all collaborate.
  • Use Twitter to share and contribute to the community.
  • It is not about us the educators, it is about the kids.
  • Stay curious, stay thirsty, stay life-long learners, change the world!

Here are further resources:
Education and Technology #140edu Conference Day 2
140edu schedule – including speaker names, twitter addresses and description of talks
Social Media News Facebook page – links and videos for many 140edu talks
MicroIntern Program – Website from the 12:20 talk that I didn’t summarize above

See also:
Video Games in Education Slideshare
Creating Innovators – What Parents Can Do
7 Innovator’s Views on Education from Skillshare’s Penny Conference
Scrible Research Tool for Web and iPad
Best Interests of the Students
Educational Video Game Creation in Gamestar Mechanic

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