During and since NECC, I have had conversations with many people about the weak teacher voice in the edublogesphere in general, and the lack of actual examples from the classroom being showcased in presentations period.
Whether you attended NECC in person or virtually, how many presentations did you attend that were presented by teachers? I mean full time classroom teachers … probably none. How many times during presentations did you see examples of work done by teachers and students using the tools and methods we promote? I did see examples, but usually made by the presenter to give attendees the basic idea.
Is this a conspiracy meant to cut teachers out of the loop? Is it because there are no teachers doing and modeling this kind of teaching in their classrooms? â€¦ No. But I believe the result might be one of the factors slowing the adoption of these tools and methods by teachers and administrators.
I know when I do sessions for teachers they often seem to make the connection and see the point when I show actual lessons (and even have the teachers experience the lesson themselves) along with examples of student work and discussion about the pedagogy and what is valuable about this kind of learning.
I know it isn’t always practical to do, depending on the topic, but examples of student work and learning, those examples should be showcased in presentations, blog posts, anywhere we can show them off. I suspect we will have many more AHA! moments from teachers, administrators and parents when they see more actual examples of the kind of work we are promoting. The Keynote at NECC on Tuesday by Mali Bickley and Jim Carleton was a good example. They shared example after example of work they are doing with their students making connections worldwide. They didnâ€™t share enough of what went into each project because of the time â€¦ but there was a buzz after their keynote. I saw Allan November show Bob Sprankle’s student produced video about podcasting last year at NECC 2007 â€¦ the crowd took notice, but it was just a sidetrack of his presentation – he quickly got back to other things, but it strengthened my thinking that we need to show examples, examples, examples of what we are talking about and start making better connections between teachers actually doing this stuff and those that present about it the most.
Using the statistics from NECC’s web site I noted that less than one-fourth of NECC attendees are teachers, and most of those are there for the first time. Most are locals that wouldn’t have attended if it had been anywhere else, and don’t go to future NECCs. The point being you may only have one shot at them.
So what? Well I’m just wondering if we need to do a better job of having teachers present at NECC (problematic) and other conferences, and having non-teachers that present do a better job (whenever feasible) of connecting to teachers by showing more real examples of what we are on the soap box about constantly. There is, unfortunately, a dearth of whole school districts or whole schools to point to as examples, so we might want to start highlighting the examples that there are. By now there has to be an archive of projects on wikis and video and web pages and so on that presenters could point to. Teachers and students could even be video-conferenced into presentations to share the nuts and bolts of projects, maybe from their classrooms – this could be powerful.
I know some of this has happened, my class has Skyped into presentations a few times. Maybe it even happens a lot more than I am aware, although I doubt it, but I believe it should happen more.
I’m not completely sure why more teachers don’t present or have their presentations accepted at edtech conferences, but that is another avenue we need to travel. I know I did not even put in a proposal to present at NECC officially, although I did present in the “Unconference” and in a poster session. Why? Because when proposals had to be done I was extremely busy being a teacher. It was the first few weeks of the school year, and I know many of you that are not teachers don’t get that, but it’s an easy choice to make – proposal or lessons and all else that goes with the job? I will endeavor to get at least one proposal done this year, and I really encourage all teachers out there to do so, but the other issue is – will I even get to go? Money is very tight and I only got to go this year at the last minute because we found some money in an unexpected place. There are many other edtech conferences besides NECC too, and subject area conferences – science, language arts, math,… that we should have a greater presence in.
Look at your aggregator , go on – look. How many bloggers that you follow are full-time teachers that are not tech teachers? I’ll bet not many. How would you know what kinds of projects they are doing that are perfect examples you could show in a presentation? Yeah, I know, they probably don’t always write about things that interest you. But those examples should be a gold mine for you to share.
Teacher bloggers – how many of you blog about the projects you do with your students with links to student work that others could easily follow to get examples to share? Do you have links to work easily found on the side bar of your blog? That is an area we could perhaps improve on to make this easier for all.
As a result of conversations at and since NECC, Alice Mercer has put together a wiki page that Scott Mcleod has posted on his “Moving Forward” Wiki. She has called it the “Educational Technology Professional Development Manifesto.” Check it out, edit it, suggest changes or additions, give us feedback.
Learning is Messy!