Songhai Concepts

Media Literacy/Digital Archiving Instructor

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

EduCon 2.1

A Conversation and A Conference

Words really can describe the awesome gathering of learners that shared, exchanged, wondered and taught at EduCon 2.1 held January 23rd through the 25th at the Science Leadership Academy here in Philadelphia - I just can't find them all.

There were over 60 presentations facilitated by some of the brightest minds in education today. There was also a brilliant team of hosts, camera people, and tech support folks from the Science Leadership Academy who kept the conference lively, upbeat and grounded. Attendees came from as far away as Australia, Morocco, Great Britain, California, South Carolina and Camden, NJ. I did not spot many teachers from the host city, Philadelphia.

It was refreshing to see and hear Dr. Molefi Kete Asante at the Friday night panel discussion.
Dr. Asante is a prolific author and Professor of African Studies at Temple University. To the question "What is the Purpose of School" Asante said "we need to encourage openness and inquiry in our schools." He urged the crowd to welcome diversity and to look beyond Greece and the West. You must also consider the extraordinary contributions of Egypt, India, China and Zimbabwe Asante said.

Dr. Stephen Squyres surprised many of us in the crowd when he said that the entire mission statement for the Mars Exploration Rover was just one paragraph long. Imagine, a one paragraph mission statement to send the space rover over 200 million miles away to Mars and our schools continue to hand out reams and reams of paper in bulky three ring binders to teachers and staff at the start of every new school year. Does policy and procedure change that much from one year to the next that schools need to use so much paper? I doubt it.

Saturday and Sunday started with speakers and panel discussions. After that, we were free to participate in on any of the sixty plus conversations being facilitated by folks like Will Richardson, Gary S. Stager, and Kristen Hokanson .

I couldn't attend every session, but the few sessions that I did attend were top notch. I enjoyed Tonia Johnson's conversation, 2.0 for Struggling Learners. Johnson is a Science and Technology coordinator from Commerce City, Colorado. She uses Web 2.0 tools to engage her students and to combat "language poverty."I especially liked the way she used several Google applications (docs, forms, blogger and presentation) as well as Wordle, and PBwiki to get us to think about how and what we teach. She also gave us an opportunity to type down, submit and discuss some of the tools that we use in our different classrooms.

Other important conversations included James Lerman's "Why Is It So Hard to Get Schools to Integrate Technology?...And 10 Things You Can Do About It!" Lerman said that teachers (especially teachers who use technology) should create "virtual departments" at their schools. In these virtual departments, Lerman said, teachers can collaborate, plan and share ideas and resources with colleagues outside of the traditional PD meeting space. Lerman also talked about the need to fix education and suggested we start first by focusing our efforts on people not the system.

Sessions I'm sorry I missed include:
The Best Educational Ideas in the World with Gary S. Stager, Ph.D.,
Transforming Schooling in and for the 21st Century with Jonathan Becker, J.D., Ph.D.,
Transparency Through Teams and Technology with Jason Levy
Using Social Media to Define the New Humanities Classroom with Antonio Viva
Forging Student/Teacher Relationships in an Era of Shared Learning with Marcie Hull, Jeff Kessler and Tyrone Kidd of the Science Leadership Academy.
There were dozens of others that I wanted to attend but my ubiquitous belt was not working.

The Wordle glyphs at the top of this post represent the three days at EduCon 2.1.
The dozen or so pictures below are from Saturday and Sunday.

H Songhai

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Create a Video And Win $600

Brainyflix is offering $600 in prize money for the top SAT Vocabulary video. Submit your videos by March 16, 2009. This contest is open to students nationwide and is being sponsored by a group of MIT alums who are trying to make SAT Prep fun and free for all. See SAT word list here.

For more information visit the Brainyflix contest web site.

H Songhai

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Organizational and Creation Tools

I stumbled across these cool organizational tools over the holiday break: Swurl, Favthumbs and PictureTrail. All three programs are free, web based and should be a part of every student's virtual backpack.

Bring your web life together with Swurl. Swurl works like an aggregator for many of your important web based accounts including delicious, blogger, flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Picasa and many others. Swurl is like a one-stop-shop-spot that organizes many of your important links, pics and posts together in one lean online work space.

Favthumbs works hand-in-hand with delicious. Favthumbs converts all of your delicious links into a series of colorful thumbnail images. The thumbnail images can be resized to fit multiple images on a page (as many as 50) or a large single list of thumbnail images. It is a really cool way to get a visual representation of all of your delicious links.

is a really handy tool for creating slideshows and short videos out of your original digital photos. It's a free service, it's easy to use and it's big fun. Enterprising students will immediately see how PictureTrail can be used together with tools like Camtasia, and Snapz to generate video files. Those files can then be imported into programs like iMovie and MovieMaker to create dazzling image sequences.

Sample of PictureTrail Slideshow Tool

H Songhai

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