Category Archives: Conferences

It’s not you; it’s me…or maybe it’s you…

As with many of you, I maintain a few professional memberships of organizations who focus on certain issues and to whom I look for learning and networking. I have been a member of one in particular since the early 2000s when, as I was getting my Master’s degree, I decided that becoming a member was of paramount importance on my career path. I happily doled out my yearly fees and looked forward to its monthly magazine and yearly conference. By reading its publication, I learned of people, ideas, and tools that I might not have learned about otherwise.

In recent years, however, I find myself disengaged – not with my profession…indeed those conversations seem to be getting richer and more thoughtful as my network expands – but with one organization in particular. I have stopped going to its annual conference, finding it more focused on pens, prizes, and over-populated lecture halls than about improving pedagogy.

I scan the periodical and only occasionally find anything that I think helps teachers who are working to meet the needs of their learners. Wanting to contribute (and not just complain), I submitted an article last year to its publication that looked at digital learning through the lens of research-based instructional strategies, thinking of teachers more as instructional designers than providers of information. The feedback from the editor was dismissive at best:

“…this felt a bit to me like dressing up old ideas in new vocabulary, rather than presenting truly new ideas.”


I recently received an email reminding me that my annual membership was about to expire. I have to ask myself: what am I getting out of this relationship? These days, I find that I learn more through Twitter feeds, blogs, and smaller, more intimate gatherings (e.g. salons, local or state conferences) than I do through its publication, special interest groups, or conference. Has it gotten too big? Or has my learning style simply shifted so much that glossy periodicals and over-stimulating conferences don’t engage me anymore?

Is anyone else dealing with this?


You might know more about your future than you think

railroadWe’ve all seen those famous quotes used in ed tech presentations (I use a few myself) that highlight lack of vision in previous predictions. A few examples:

  • “By 2000, machines will be producing so much that everyone in the U.S. will, in effect, be independently wealthy.” – Time, 1966
  • “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.” – Ken Olsen, President Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

Yet, when I read books such as Where Good Ideas Come From or Blink or Decisive, I become more convinced that, given the right protocols and tools, we are actually better at anticipating our future than we might think. If we have a system for paying attention to current trends and for adding to our view of the world beyond our own narrow realities, we stand a chance of not only accurately predicting future trends, but preparing ourselves for success within that future world.

I will be presenting on how McREL used the scenario planning process to change how we thought about our work at this year’s TIE Leadership Academy on June 17 in Copper Mountain, CO. If you would like to learn more about the process and start your own planning, I hope you will join me!

In the meantime, here’s a quick video where I describe the basic tenets of the process.

Tired of the gloom and doom of education news?

We are!

Please join Dr. Ceri Dean and me tomorrow at 1:00 pm CDT as we look at the GOOD things that are happening in classrooms around the world every day: How Mobile Devices, Data Streams, & a Return to Authentic Learning Will Change Education.

We hope to see you there!

#mcrel #ascd13

Educon 2013

Just some early thoughts as we get started with Educon

I kept pondering what the difference was – what was the “secret to the sauce” as I listened to SLA students give their tours yesterday. Here are a couple of differences that I noticed in these students that I don’t often see when I’m touring schools, especially high schools:

  1. Pride in their school, their work, their teachers, and their community,
  2. Humility in that their destiny ultimately lies within them, not what a teacher does for them,
  3. Awareness of a world beyond high school and their excitement in the role they will soon play in that world (or in some cases, are already playing).
  4. Engagement in their own work. Not once did I see rows of bored teenagers listen to a grown-up lecture.

I kept thinking back to the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd graders I taught in my Montessori classroom and the 6th graders I saw them become. SLA would have been a very natural progression for them. They would have loved the independent study, the focus on community, and the leadership roles they are expected to play.

So good to see. My question – can we replicate this on a large scale?

Hope to see you in Boston!

book coversNext week, I will be attending the Learning Forward conference in Boston and will be presenting on Monday (2:30-4:30) on “How Instructional Strategies Inform the Use of Technology.” This session will highlight McREL’s newest research that informs Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, 2nd editionand will show how an instructional framework helps educators to make intentional use of technologies under the umbrella of research-based strategies.

Many activities during the 2 hours will be hands-on, so participants are encouraged to bring a laptop, netbook, iPad, or other mobile device.

Hope to see you there!

ISTE Leadership Forum 2012

The ISTE Leadership Forum so far has been amazing. Chris Lehmann’s keynote was such an informative, inspirational insight into what his school does on a daily basis. I can’t wait to see the school in action in January at EduCon.

McREL Kiosk

Tomorrow, Howard Pitler and I will be at the McREL kiosk (K37) to answer questions about instructional audits, walkthroughs, scenario planning, and using instructional strategies as a framework for integrating technology.

On Tuesday morning, I have the honor of moderating a panel on skilled personnel. This panel will include Howard Pitler from McREL, Jim Erwin & Josh Raub from the American School in Japan, and Diane Jackson from AEA 8 in Iowa, all who bring unique perspectives in mentoring skilled personnel who are charged with leading evolving learning environments.

We hope to see you there!

Hope to see you at ISTE’s Leadership Forum!

On October 21-23, I will be joining other educators and leaders for ISTE’s inaugural Leadership Forum in Indianapolis. I will be attending as a learner and teacher as well as hosting McREL’s kiosk.

I am most excited about the opportunity to moderate the Essential Conditions panel on Skilled Personnel. This panel includes people I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the years in my work at McREL. Each of them brings specific models or practices of professional development that has led to having skilled personnel who are ready to instruct in ever-evolving learning environments. My panel members are:

This forum encourages discussions over presentations; shared learning over “expert dissemination.” I look forward to meeting many people whom I only currently know as “Tweeps” and “bloggers,” but who impact my learning on a daily basis. It should be a great experience. I hope to see you there!