Explain, Exercise, and Debrief

Unconference

I was asked to present at the IntegratED Conference in Portland, Oregon this past weekend and I was both delighted and a bit intimidated. The lineup of presenters included some of the most creative thinkers in educational technology that I’ve been learning from for some time.  I was slated to present my usual fare for administrators, the power of social media and a second workshop on productivity. I’ve posted notes to the workshops here on the blog.

Here are some highlights of the experience:

  • For far too long, educators (and probably those in other fields), have been tied to professional development that centers on “sit and git”, listening to an endless array of PowerPoint slides delivered by the equivalent of Ben Stein as the boring economics teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Educators have rebelled against that stereotype and developed the concept of Ed Camp/Unconference which I’ve written about recently. It was a strong statement that splendid organizer Darren Hudgins chose to begin the conference on Sunday with an Unconference with nearly half of the attendees participating. Using clever collaborative software, the attendees suggested workshop topics and then we voted for our top choices. Darren quickly assigned rooms, shared it on a Google Doc, and then while we were in our first sessions, he arranged the other two sessions. Once in the sessions themselves, certain individuals naturally displayed leadership and the conversation never waned.
  • It is impossible to see every breakout session, so in the spirit of collaboration, many participants took notes on a shared Google Doc which served to fill in the holes and give a broader picture of the conference. This was led by impressive educator Ben Wilkoff who inspired me throughout the sessions.
  • I had the chance to meet in person many educators that I’ve known only through Twitter and their blog posts. Especially gracious and welcoming was Tim Lauer, Principal of Lewis Elementary in Portland who spoke about this quite well in this post.
  • Thanks to the encouragement of Darren, I am more committed than ever to abstain from “sit and git” in my future workshops and follow the formula of: Explain, Exercise and Debrief, that is…Explain a new idea or tool, give participants a chance to Exercise their new skill or idea, and then Debrief what was learned. Nice formula.

Honestly, my top highlight was seeing my brother Dick and his wife Sue who live outside of Portland. We just don’t see enough of each other.

Next stop on April 1, the LESCN Spring ConferenceEducating the 21st Century Learner: An Educator’s Guide to Personalizing Learning in the Cloud where I’ll be presenting two workshops. I hope to see you there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *