Saturday, November 14, 2009

Making Meaningful Connections

NEIT2009 Days 2 and 3
At the closing keynote, Michael Wesch (@mwesch) posed this essential question: "How can we create students who can create meaningful connections?" At this conference I made dozens of meaningful connections. I learned about school to school collaborations, tried to figure out Google Wave (still don't get it), introduced more folks to Twitter and had a great discussion about effective professional development.

I talked and danced with many new faces including more people I had only known previously online. These included Bill Campbell (@BillCamp), Karen Blumberg (@specialkrb), Michelle Koetke, Matthew Lipstein (@matthewlipstein), Don Buckley, Aaron Grill (@agrill), Andrew Katz, Denise Daley, Kerri Richardson-Redding (@nandikerri), Lan Heng (@lheng ), Colin Samuel (@colincsh), Barbara Swanson (@barbaraswanson), Lisa Pedicini (@Pedicini ), Anne Marie Rowley (@amrowley), Julien Laveyssieres (@jlaveyssieres), and of course Arvind Grover (@arvind) and Alex Ragone (@alexragone). (I'm sorry if I've forgotten some people.)

I even got shake hands and get my picture taken (along with Kerri Richardson-Redding) with Michael Wesch himself. When I introduced myself to Michael he said he knew me from Twitter. OMG! You can imagine the look on my face when he said that. Talk about making a meaningful connection. That man is one of my rockstars! Here are some of my revelations from his talk. You can watch the entire keynote here including the etherpad collaborative notes. I reccommend that you do. Both parts were amazing.

Five Things I'm thinking about after listening to Michael Wesch:
  1. We need to go from creating knowledgeable students to creating knowledge-able students who can think and discover for themselves.

  2. Media are not just tools - media mediates relationships. Technologies shape who can say what, who can hear it and what can be said. When media changes, relationships change. When you introduce media into a culture you have cultural shift.

  3. There are no natives here - these technologies are only 5 years old and in 5 years there will be new technologies that are only 5 years old. We are all in the same boat. We can't give ourselves an out by suggesting that we don't have to teach students and ourselves how to best use these tools.

  4. All real learning hurts because it changes us in some way. If it's easy then we aren't doing it right. We need to be willing to take more risks and fail and get back up again. If we aren't failing then we aren't really learning.

  5. The ultimate question is how can we create students who can create meaningful connections? Maybe the first step is learning ourselves how to create meaningful connections. There is also a question of what makes a connection meaningful.
Wrapping Up:
We ended the conference with a World Cafe style discussion. I chose to sit at a table where we discussed creativity and innovation. What struck me at the end of our talk was the number of dichotomies that I am constantly balancing. The tension between tradition and innovation, between risk and reward, between product and process, between, my educational philosophy and the philosophy/culture of the school. The trick is to find a way to be comfortable with the discomfort. Good luck with that ;-)

Image Sources:
2009-11-13-NEIT2009 046 from alex.ragone's photostream on Flickr
Liz, Kerri and Michael from alex.ragone's photostream on Flickr
2009-11-13-NEIT2009-WorldCafe 040 from alex.ragone's photostream on Flickr
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