I’ve just spent a few days at the CoSN (www.cosn.org, #cosn) annual conference (#cosn12) in Washington, DC. It was a great Conference, and I left it feeling validated about many things we are doing in Escambia County schools but pressured to do more.
The conference theme was reimagine learning, and most of the sessions focused on what we should be doing in our twenty-first century schools. My validated ideas included increasing our bring your own technology initiative, improving our wireless infrastructure, and developing our local instructional improvement system. These were all big themes at the conference, and essential to adapting our schools to the twenty-first century.
As we adapt to the twenty-first century, however, we should be looking at some other things including increasing total bandwidth, providing more professional development to our teachers and administrators to help them adapt to the twenty-first century, and developing appropriate policy to assist our schools in embracing mobile technologies in the learning environment.
One of the first sessions I attended was with Larry Johnson from the New Media Consortium. He said that he worried that our strategic thinking is based on a world that no longer exists. He compared the early days of radio to where we are today with mobile technologies. Although I often think about the how many of our classroom environments aren’t preparing our students for life in the 21st century, I had never thought about how we need to change our strategic thinking to make that happen.
I spent several hours listening to presentations by staff from Forsyth County, Georgia, and vendors supporting them. Their size is similar to ours, and they are several years into a bring your technology and digital content initiative. Before beginning the initiative, they spent approximately $100 per student per year for instructional materials. Most (70%) was spent on traditional print materials. Today they spend approximately $30 per student per year for instructional materials and most (60%) is spent on digital content. Their bandwidth is over six times what ours is. They believe most of their students have 2-3 devices at school every day. Their professional development focuses on engaging students in their own learning by having them collaborate to create content to demonstrate their critical thinking skills and by communicating an understanding of real world situations.
One of the final keynote speakers was Travis Allen, founder and CEO of ischoolinitiative.com. The company provides services to help schools adapt to meet the needs of today’s mobile learners. He was a very engaging speaker. I don’t know how his company’s services are, but he was personally very impressive.
My Favorite Tweets from #CoSN12
@OfficeofEdTech: Our ed. system is perfectly aligned to prepare students for a place they will never live or work. -Mark Edwards
@hobsonjill: Higher Ed instructors don’t study best practices in learning so they don’t model it. Here’s a place to make change!
@OfficeofEdTech: We need to make learning fun is wrong idea. Learning IS fun – we just need to connect it to things they care about. -Douglas Thomas
@OfficeofEdTech: Allowing students to come up w/questions that matter to them is SO important. Questions more important than answers. -Doug Thomas
@ChrisB_SW: Doug Thomas at #CoSN12 “in communities you learn to belong”
@oysteinj: Doug Thomas: in collectives people belong to learn #cosn12