Monday, March 8, 2010

The United Message at TEDxNYED

On Saturday, March 6th, I attended my first TEDxNYED event. At the suggestion of my principal, Eric Sheninger, I applied to this full-day conference about learning in the 21st century. I am so glad that my application was accepted, as it was a terrific experience! I will provide just a few of the gems that I gleaned there.

I want to know your thoughts about the ideas included here, so please post a comment!!

Online community organizer Andy Carvin spoke about getting teens involved in online volunteering. He gave examples of how using social media has helped to save lives, including during the recent/current crisis in Haiti.

Cultural anthropologist Mike Wesch spoke about the critical need for our students to be more than "knowledgeable"; they must be "knowledge-able".

MIT Professor Henry Jenkins spoke of the effects of participatory media on young people and the fact that social networking allows for a participatory culture.

"Chief Openness Officer" David Wiley gave the important message that without sharing there is no education. He highlighted the idea that our new technologies give us an unprecedented capacity to share and educate. However, we must still overcome the challenge of policies that block valuable websites and do not encourage openness.

Associate professor Jeff Jarvis discussed the notion that our schools are stuck in an outmoded industrial-age model. He stated that our schools should become incubators to identify and grow students' interests rather than remain factories where so-called mastery is often memorization! He stressed that we need to stop the "culture" of standardized tests and emphasize authentic learning.

Chris Lehmann, creator and principal of Philadelphia's Science Leadership Institute, gave a strong conclusion to the day's presentations. He talked about the "maddening paradox" of education in 2010, where we can do amazing things, but nobody cares unless you can pass the test. He said that while technology may not help students pass the test, it will help them learn. To be successful and functional in today's world, he posited that students must be able to think for themselves. Technology provides avenues to accomplish this goal by enabling students to create, research, collaborate, present and network.

Other speakers made equally good and important presentations. Trust me that I am barely scratching the surface in this post. There was tremendous consensus on the part of all presenters about the direction that education must take in order to prepare our students for our current and future world.

While the bulk of the day showcased these presenters and more, participants also had ample opportunity to "meet and greet" and compare notes with other educators. In doing so, I made a contact that I expect will result in my learning from someone who has already used a Web 2.0 app that I would like to try.

It is always excellent to be able to have such conversations with professional colleagues. The give-and-take allows us each to move forward without having to reinvent the wheel. The sharing that occurred at TEDxNYED and that occurs regularly through online vehicles such as nings and Twitter results in new ideas and strategies that help educate our students in 2010.

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