Thing 13 – K12 Online Conference 2009

I’m looking forward to being an active learner as I formally join the FREE  K12 Online Conference during the two weeks of December 7-11 and December 14-17.

However, in case you are not able to fit these sessions into your busy schedule as an educator, I encourage you to visit this K12 Online Conference site anytime because the presentations are always available for viewing.

For example, I chose to look at an introductory or “Getting Started” keynote entitled “How Can I Become Part of this ReadWriteWeb Revolution?” I was immediately set at ease as I watched three educators, Alice Barr, Cheryl Oakes and Bob Sprankle, sitting in an outdoor cafe, sharing their educational insights with their video audience in a rather down-to-earth manner. As they talked about introducing technology to students, each educator held up a “flip video”  and captured the dialogue and expressions of their colleagues in a very conversational manner.

They agreed that VoiceThread was an excellent vehicle for helping educators begin to learn about technology and utilize web 2.0 applications with their students. I liked Bob’s comment, which I am paraphrasing, when he stated that … bringing in these technologies (e.g. flip video units) has a transformational effect that can help educators move out of their comfort zone and patterns of what they have been doing for years. When you hand out a flip video to your students, you no longer control learning and no longer are you the gatekeeper of knowledge.

These three educators have formed a professional learning network called the seedlings and encourage other educators to connect with them.

I believe that this re-occurring theme of “connecting teachers” will help us all move outside our “comfort zone” as we support one another on this exciting, and sometimes frustrating, journey. Just last night, I participated in an on-line video conference to kick off Media Literacy week.  Dr. Alec Couros, of the University of Regina, was asked to name three introductory applications that teachers could best use to form and participate in professional learning networks. He suggested the following approaches to help educators get connected and support one another:

  1. Educators need to start using Twitter to connect with other educators. However, Alec recommended that educators use Tweetdeck which has a much more user-friendly interface that the standard Twitter application.
  2. Twitter lists of like-minded educators should be created. Imagine the power of the educational sharing community if one had access to a list of Twitter-using Grade 3 educators or high school Science teachers in the province or state.
  3. Teachers need to start using an aggregator, like Google Reader, to gain information and ideas from other educators and blogs through the RSS feed process. As Alec stated, one needs to read blogs before one can begin to create an effective blog.

In summary, I think that the upcoming K12 Online Conference, together with its archived resources, provides educators with a wealth of educational information.  True, some teachers today will say they don’t have time to explore such online opportunities. If this is indeed true, then such educators need to belong to a personal learning network so that their colleagues can synthesize and share educational resources with them. Remember … “your friends are your filters”.

Take care & keep smiling 🙂

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