Thursday, June 28, 2007

online learning institute!

Intensely frustrated by the repeated reaquaintance with the error message balloon "This connection has limited or no connectivity and the Windows message [insert image], I'm typing this post in notepad to insert later, when I can achieve a connection at someplace that has a clue about wireless connectivity. Shoot, I'd give an arm and a leg for a CAT5 jack. Days Inn Atlanta staff are friendly and helpul and very very nice, but their "we're working on it" reply is getting stale now that the technology conference is over and their explanation that too many people are trying to use the hotel wireless at once is no longer available.

Sigh.

The SREB (Southeastern Educational Review Board) "Online Learning Institute" in the Omni Hotel is going great guns. NECC 2007 officially concluded with the stunning 2:45 keynote address by Dr. Tim Tyson, principle at Mabry Middle School here in Atlanta, a school where administrators and technologists (and, more importantly, teachers) "get it." All the keynotes are, or will soon be, available at the NECC2007 website. Any of my readers or colleagues who may wonder just why it is that I'm so passionate about the immense societal changes that technology is working upon the way children learn and the way(s) we should be teaching them, please go listen to Andrew Zoli's opening keynote; the archived panel discussion ("Why Creativity and Innovation Matter") that he moderated on Tuesday; or Dr. Tyson's closing Keynote.

Or, if you want to cut to the chase, get to the ECB website and hear the opening keynote by educational technologist and futurist Dr. Chris Dede, Wirth Professor of Learning Technologies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. As tired as I was by 4:30, Dr. Dede made me sit up and take notice in the Hotel Omni's Ballroom E, linen tableclothed tables surrounded by sort of the upper eschelon of NECC attendees (you could tell that by the coats and ties, and the generally subdued response and Dr. Dede lobbed one explosive concept after another off the podium) when he said that he has "the dubious distinction of holding an endowed chair at Harvard in a field in which I have had only one course in my life. The course was in 1967. It was in a programming language that no longer exists. I used punch cards. And I hated the course it drove me out of the field for the next eight years. We have to do better for this generation."

Another zinger, somewhat paraphrased: "A generation from now there will only be two skills our students will need to to have mastered in order to have a successful professional life. They are: 1) expert decision making (what does your skilled auto mechanic do when all the diagnostics say that your car is working but it isn't), and 2) complex communication skills--the ability to make meaning out of complexity."

Following the keynote, groups broke out into 10 Round Table discussion groups that will follow each Panel Presentation for a total of three Round Table sessions, at which participants can repeat their choice or choose another (I chose Tools and Resources (see below). Here's the list:

  • Designing Online content
  • Online Facilitation
  • StrategiesAccessibility: 508 and 504 in Online
  • ProgramsOngoing Professional Development,
  • Mentoring and Coaching for Online Instructors
  • Overview of Course Management Systems for Online Learning Online
  • Assessment and Assessing OnlinePartnerships and Stakeholders
  • Tools and Resources for Online Learning
  • Web 2.0 Tools
  • Establishing your Online Program: Marketing Retention and Incentives

Each table had a facilitator and a notetaker and I'm suspecting notes will be online after the session ends at 4:00 pm tonite. (Note: Still not available--will revise here when the notes and audio are online)

Okay, I was somewhat dreading putting in yet another day of sharing and learning about education, but here I am; and as I stumbled out of the reception following the opening session of the "online learning institute" I felt kind of like I always feel when I let my wife drag me to church on Sunday. Not having really wanted to go, I felt better.

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