K12 Online - The Kick Off ... and a touch down

10/17/2006 11:47:00 am

The web is abuzz with excitement following yesterday's keynote presentation by David Warlick and the Fireside Chat we had with him less than 12 hours later.

You can watch David's keynote, read people's contributions to his wiki and keep up with the distributed conversations across the web by hitchhiking to the conference.

The rest of this, I think, is going to be hard to follow. I haven't blogged much in the last several months and I'm just letting loose a stream of consciousness ....

I feel an powerful sense of satisfaction and gratefulness. I've been working on this project for months ... it's incredibly gratifying to see it start to come to fruition. The quality, depth and passion of the presenters and presentations is astounding. David spoke with passion, sincerity, authenticity and a genuine concern for the education of teachers and all our children. David sitting in the park giving his address was interrupted twice. Once by a jogger out with his dog; he just ran by. Then again by an older lady who stopped to chat with David and talk about what he was doing and who he was speaking to. What a beautiful metaphor for what this entire conference is all about.

We've been having this conversation here for what feels like a long time now. Months for some of us, years for others. This conference is about those conversations but it's about a lot more than that. It's about the joggers out with their dogs who pass by with barely a glance ...

  • All of us who have immersed ourselves in the world of online learning, 21st century education, web 2.0, education 2.0, whatever you want to call it ... we all have those colleagues who we'd like to see join the conversation but don't. They're caught up with other things. They pass us by with barely a glance in the course of their day. They pass us by without realizing that the little webcam was a window to the world.

It's about the little senior citizens who stop to chat, maybe derail the conversation briefly, but at least they start asking questions.

  • Their curiosity draws them in, without their even realizing that in that brief moment, they can touch people all over the world. Just by the fact of their curiosity they can impact people they've never seen. They see there's a window to the world there, intellectually they may understand it, but they don't "get it" until the world touches them back ... like in an Elluminate room where over 170 people drop in over the course of an hour. Some have questions and they're looking for answers; some have answers and expertise and they're just looking to share it; some are just curious ... they drop in just to listen and soak up the atmosphere ... the energy of all these people that span the globe, connecting and learning by talking and sharing. How can we make our little corner of the world a better place by helping more kids get better and more deeply educated, in a world where the only constant is change and the rate a which things are changing means we don't even know what world we are preparing them for?

I keep telling my students over and over again ...

Learning is a conversation. If you're not talking to someone about it ... you're not learning it.

There's a real conversation stretching across the globe, right now, that a year ago I never imagined would be possible. There's real deep, meaningful learning going on that we'll all be able to bring back to our daily teaching practice as we continue to reflect on it. But how do we get that jogger (our colleagues and neighbours) to slow down and look in the window? Maybe even go so far as to chat a while by the fire? How do we get our senior citizens (parents, grandparents, entire families) do to more than just express a passing interest in someone who seems up to something weird?

My own children are sitting in classes that are not making these global connections. I'd like to help those teachers join the conversation but I can't; we teach in the same school division ... they don't seem to want my help. The offer is intimidating and creates barriers I would like to avoid. Sure, my kids (and my nieces) have blogs. They know dad is connected globally. They hear me get excited about their projects and the dynamic tools they could use to make powerful artifacts. "But that's not what the teacher wants" they say. K12 Online is a beginning ... there's still a long way to go to get my own children educated.

When you head back to the conference for the next event. Bring a friend. Please.

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