You know how a lot of birders have life lists where they check off one species or another when they happen to see it warbling up in a tree or darting past their binoculars? In some weird way it’s akin to what it feels like meeting the bloggers who are in my Bloglines account. Yesterday I got a chance to cross Wes Freyer and Dean Shareski off of my list as we and a few other blogger types got a chance to engage in some face to face discussion about the state of education at a Discovery Educator Network dinner here in Orlando. Wes was in town to receive a Best Blogger Award from eSchool News and to give a Web 2.0 workshop at another conference in town. Also in attendance were Tim Wilson, Steve Dembo and a number of other educators who collectively produced some really interesting conversation, which we tried to record, btw.
I hope the others blog their impressions, but I was really struck by the intensity of what we talked about, the roadblocks inherent in school reform, strategies for sharing these tools with school leaders, ways to expand this conversation to teachers and schools that aren’t currently a part of it. It was exciting at times, frustrating at others. Optimistic and pessimistic at the same time. While we have a lot of these converstaions asynchronously on our blogs, it was a reminder of how effective face to face is. We covered a great deal of territory in a couple of hours.
The upshot? There is a lot of work to do, not so much even in teaching the tools as in figuring out what the answers to all of these tough questions really are. I certainly feel humbled by the sheer magnitude of this conversation, and priveleged to be even a small part of it. But I think that we’re not going to get very far until more voices enter it. And whether or not blogs will save the world, they can at least facilitate that conversation providing access is available and there is enough of a comfort level with the medium to use it.
An incredible evening indeed! The conversation was wonderful but nothing compared to the state of mind I left with. Will, I too left feeling optimistic and hopeful, much like being standing, or maybe sitting!, somewhere on the gray terrain on your banner. The summit is in view, the reality of where we are is very evident and the contrast between the two points is crystal clear. It’s reminiscent of freshman college days when the question’s posed were greater than any of us thought we were capable of solving yet in the end we all surprised ourselves. I know you must be surprising yourself with each new encounter along the way. The questions are numerous and the answers few but that’s all changing one conversation at a time.
Dean R Shareski says
I was amazed at the similarities of everyone’s personalities and their online personas. I guess that’s proof that blogging is a transparent medium. Great to meet everyone. As I’m sure you’ve heard time and time again, thanks Will for introducing me not only at the event but more importantly to the dozens of others who are now major contributors to my learning. You’ve steered me in some interesting directions. Fortunately I don’t have to rely on you for mapping directions! Thanks again.
Wesley Fryer says
One of the big takeaways from the evening’s discussion was definitely “inviting more teachers into the conversation.” Discovery Educator Network events like this one are one tangible way that can happen. I just read The Daring Dozen in the March ’06 edition of Edutopia as I wait here in the Orlando airport to fly back to Texas, and was struck by the immense potentiality of the conversation in which so many of us are engaged around the nation and globe. There will not be one single answer for all students and all schools, but common themes and needs are certainly emerging. I heard about the Big Picture Company for the first time 2 weeks ago when Jeff Allen mentioned it in our international skypecast, and now I’m reading about it in Edutopia. We have so many tremendously creative, passionate, and talented teachers and thinkers around this world– and through the technology we are now connected to have discussions about issues and ideas in ways that are unprecedented in human history. I share your sentiments Will, I am humbled to have some small part in this conversation. And I am enthused to think about the impact this could have on the education of my own children, who are all just entering school and desperately need (as all children do) to be engaged in work that matters and interests them in their classrooms.