Monday, March 23, 2015

ASCD 2015 - Day 2

Day 2 began early.

First session 8:00am...

I was fortunate to be on a panel with Elana Leoni of and Joe Manko an awesome principal from Baltimore. Our panel was "Creating a 140 Character Culture: Schoolwide Twitter Adoption." We've spent a lot of time over the last few months prepping for this and it was a great experience to work with Elana and Joe. Being able to present with them was opportunitiy I was very fortunate to have. If you don't know Elana or Joe, connect with them. They are both doing amazing things with social media in education (keep an eye out for us at ISTE too). They are pretty awesome people.

It was a great experience presenting with Elana and Joe. The attendees were awesome too. We created a hashtag specifically for our session (#ascd2156) and a Tagboard to serve as a backchannel. Throughout the panel it was great to see all the tweets, all the sharing from the audience.
(our handout is here)
It may have been 8:00 am but it was a great way to start the day...

Had the opportunity to to hear Nicholas Negroponte deliver a keynote address. If you're not familiar with the name I'll boil it down to "MIT professor, started the One Laptop Per Child" imitative. He's more than that but I'd say those are two of the most common associations.

I have mixed feelings about his talk. I loved his thoughts on living in beta, always iterating, and always growing. He also made the analogy that life is an omelet, not a fried egg. Essentially meaning there shouldn't be defined borders but rather everything intermixed. For me that definitely resonated along the lines of "don't use tech for tech sake." Make evertyhng support each other. Make it natural and purposeful.

What I had a problem with was 2-fold:
  • He stated, repeatedly, that "a tablet is a consumption device and not creative."
  • He used tablets as part of his research to compile copious amounts of data on the usage of children in remote villages
To the first point, I bristle at that notion. I loath that notion. That a tablet isn't a creative device. At this point I'd say a Chromebook is more consumption than creative if you base the comparison on available software. My iPad can browse the web and work with Google Docs, just like a Chormebook. Technically the iPad has a keyboard, on-screen yes, but it's there. There is no mouse or track pad because the entire screen is a track pad. The biggest difference I see if the available software for creation. The volume of apps for iOS is astounding. You can draw, animate, recorded audio, make music, edit movies, use green screen, augmented reality.... I could go on...
Yes, Google has their marketplace but it is by no means as robust and varied. There are far more things I can create on my iPad that I can't do on my Chromebook. And there is little my Chromebook can do that my iPad can't.

I loath the "iPads aren't for creation" mentality and I think it's antiquated. I was disappointed to hear Nicholas Negroponte say that. And I don't think he did it for effect... I think he truly believes it...

The second thing that bothered me was his use of tablets. He gave them to remote villages with SIM cards that recorded everything. App use, duration, photos or users, and so forth. He got amazing amounts of data back such as the average user used 50 apps and they could see the looks of intent and purpose on the users faces....
... Were these villages aware of all this data collection? Did he explain and make sure they understood what was happening? He never elaborated. And it wasn't clear if all his data proved, or disproved, his earlier statement about tablets being consumption only. I think he views that data as proof of consumption only but he never clarified. And he never elaborated on the use of the data collected nor the understanding of the villages of the process and purpose. That disappointed me.

Overall I enjoyed his keynote. I'm happy I had the opportunity to see him speak. I just we put off by those two points.
(related: I only brought my iPad to ASCD and I not only consumed by created, among other things, two blog posts)

After the keynote I sat in Beth Holland's session on technology use. She had great examples of the difference between "used effectively or simply used." It was a packed room and she generated great conversations about technology use in the classroom and how to make it more effective and not just a digital worksheet. It was an hour very well spent.

After that it was a mind-swimming few hours of talking to folks, sharing stories of our school, swapping ideas, and geeking out over all the cool things our students do and all the things we're going to steal from each other to push the learning and innovation in our school.

Day 2 was awesome. The sessions rocked. But overall I'd say the highlight was connecting in person with so many people who are doing amazing things with their studetns. I love coming to ASCD, it's always a great conference. And keynotes and sessions aside, the ability to connect with people from all over the world is the most powerful reason to come...


  1. What cool things did you see in the exhibit hall?!

    1. The IPEVO booth was awesome, great document cameras and a very inexpensive interactive whiteboard solution.

      And Learning Bird, an awesome online learning platform. Great platform with tons of teacher-created content. Nice folks too, they let me charge my phone.