CLMS / CLHS Conference Published 2006-11-19 under

I am in beautiful Monterey, CA attending "Teaching The Millennial Generation" conference. My session, "Online Collaboration Tools" is over so I could spend the day enjoying the presentations. David Warlick was the keynote speaker for the conference. I have heard David speak on numerous occasions, listen to his podcasts and the day outside was absolutely beautiful. Despite all of these reasons to be tempted to skip the keynote, I found myself in attendance.

While there were one or two new things that I got from David's presentation, I was more impressed with the storytelling as much as the story. His style is captivating and I think that this is as important as any bullet point from his slides. David points out that one of the most important leadership skills is the ability to tell a story.

I attended a session later in the day on developing videos for online teacher training. I went with a single question - how do you get content experts to create compelling and engaging scripts, stories? The presenter glossed over the question (several times) by saying that it is not difficult to get a subject expert to create a script. While he wanted to focus on issues such as online follow-up assessments, I feel he missed the point - the craft is in the telling of the story.

It has not been my experience that it is easy to develop content packaged in a compelling story. Dave Warlick's gift is his ability to package his ideas into a story and deliver it in an engaging fashion. This is an important skill that we need to be teaching our kids.

... Bringing me to Digital Storytelling - a topic that was conspicuously missing in the program (actually there was one session on it that I missed). There were sessions on how to find free multimedia on the web, how to use PowerPoint to replace your poster board projects, and even how to edit photos using Google's Picasa. But the focus was on the technology, not the story, not the storytelling. I am excited about one digital storytelling tool that Bob Fishtrom introduced - Photo Story 3 - which gives PC users the ability to easily create a digital story. This is a free download from Microsoft for users of XP.

I attended Chris Walsh's session on the Google Universe to see what is new since his presentation at CUE back in March. The change in the name of his presentation says it all - the presentation used to be Google World. Google is taking over, not just the world now, but the universe. Chris goes through just a few of the ever growing list of services that Google has to offer. The one that I had not heard of and that Chris highlighted in an Infinite Thinking Machine video played prior to the start of the session was SketchUp, a 3-D modeling software (PC and Mac). The personal addition is free - wow! But the real meat of Chris' presentation was about accessing information, whether it be using one of Google's special search features or searching from your phone using SMS. Where is the benefit to learning? Chris asked how we might incorporate these services into our curriculum and the answers he got back were not great. In fact, Chris said that he is still trying to find the "killer" use for the SMS feature in education.

The point is we now live in an age where accessing the information is no longer an issue. What we do with it is the important part. This was one of David's main points in his keynote. Google is making access to information ubiquitous. We need to now teach our kids to view the information with a critical eye filtering out the irrelevant or inaccurate information and draw connections between other bits of information. This critical thinking has always been a goal in education, but it is made easier when the information is so accessible.

From the perspective of both a presenter and an attendee, one hour "breakout sessions" are not long enough to really get into the meat of the issues. I commend the organizers of this conference as they had several 2 1/2 hour sessions - most were in labs - where we could really learn. As an example, Amy Murphy had her class podcasting, not just listening to an overview of the subject.

Monterey is a beautiful place and despite the natural beauty outside, I am glad that I spent the day at this well run conference.

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Diane Quirk said...

I'm reading this posting as I'm getting ready to go attend sessions at our state technology conference. I always look at the titles of conference sessions and wonder who's really going to get down to the important questions about the impact on student learning.

I agree with you--accessing information is no longer the issue. In order to understand concepts we need lots of information and now we live in a world where you can practically reach out and touch it. Eric Jensen will tell you that we need to immerse ourselves in information and then "think" our way out.

Some folks are immersing themselves in the educational value of online tools, some are dealing with the coolness factor and some are somewhere in between. I attended a session on podcasting yesterday. The guys doing the session spent the whole time on the technology and never once told us what impact podcasting was having on student learning. The kids will love using the technology tools-of course-but how have we changed our pedagogy based on the tools available? Don't many of these new tools even demand a change?

Much to think about... I'm looking forward to attending 3 sessions with Will Richardson today.

rob banning said...


Thanks for the comments and I hope today's session will have a stronger focus on learning and the tech talk will only be on how to support that learning.

I too struggle with which sessions to attend. Titles and descriptions rarely give you a full picture. I like the idea of presenters including an [online] outline and short podcast description of their session. But even these can be misleading. What is a conference attendee suppose to do. :-0

I love that idea of "immersing ourselves in information and then thinking our way out". I have not heard it expressed that way but I think that it is spot on. Thanks.

Enjoy your sessions with Will. He is a good speaker and I know his focus is on the learning.