For a fairly small conference, TLt 2010 has some pretty impressive keynotes.
Monday evening kicked off with Scott Leslie. Scott has been someone I’ve followed online for a number of years so it’s always a treat to be able to connect face to face. Scott’s talk on becoming a networked learner was certainly not filled with new ideas for me but a message that I know continues to be needed for many educators in this province. A couple of key ideas did resonate for me, paraphrased somewhat:
“Learning that used to be centered around proximity is now being centered around affinity”
“If you believe your institution is offering has a market on expertise what are you saying about every other place of learning”
“Institutions need to realize they are not only there to offer learning to their own students but have a larger responsibility of learning for all”
I had not heard David Wiley speak live. I’ve been quite aware of his work and was looking forward to hearing him. If you’ve not heard David before, check out his recent TEDx talk. David eloquently shared on openness and addressed head on the barriers and resistance to openness. I couldn’t imagine anyone being able to argue intelligently against his ideas. I’m sure there are those who might try but his ideas are pretty rock solid. Paraphrased once again:
“According to copyright law, a crayon drawing by a 5 year old and the movie Avatar enjoy equal protection”
“Openness is about overcoming your inner 2 year old. It’s mine! No you can’t have it!”
No question, I’ll be using many of David’s ideas in the future.
The concurrent sessions were 30 minutes sessions where presenters were encourage to leave time for questions and discussions. I have to say this is a challenging format and I’m not sure presenters and participants handled this all that well. 15-20 minutes is not really enough time to set the stage for most topics. Given the challenge of creating a compelling TED talk, that’s about the only presentation format that may have worked. By the time introductions and context were given, actual content was shortchanged. Even if it wasn’t 15 minutes to have meaningful conversation is also almost impossible. I think back to Educon where conversations were the order of the day but sessions were 90 minutes.
The afternoon panel discussion did offer some greatness. Jay Wilson shared about his pre-service teacher courses. He talked about creating opportunities for his students to have success and how he supports them with their passions. Throughout his talk it was evident his genuine interest in his students and love of teaching make him an outstanding educator which by the way the University of Saskatchewan agrees.
The cracker barrel sessions are a great model to spark conversations. 20 minutes on a given topic with 5-6 people. The topic I sat in on was Information Overload. I immediately gave it my best Shirky take and was quickly challenged by some nursing instructors who argued that the demand on knowledge for nurses is getting overwhelming. It was worthwhile talk.
Wednesday’s keynote from Harold Jarche was a great historical and current argument for social learning and networking as shifting hierarchy in the workplace. From favorite quote:
“Enhanced serendipity is the emergent result from people involved in networks”.
This conference was a cut above many for the following reasons:
- The keynotes talks all fit a theme.
- Each keynote was followed by question and answer. Some great and challenging questions.
- The keynotes were fully participating in the conference. They attended the concurrents, participated fully and stayed till the end. Nothing endears a keynote more than by hanging around and demonstrating yourself as a learner.
- You’ve never seen a better wine and cheese food selection.
Although TLt is a higher education conference, discussions of learning, teacher and school aren’t much different.