Reflections on the K12 Online Conference Keynote

In the 21st century, we learn by teaching with each other. We learn by sharing our knowledge, our experience, what we’ve discovered, what we’ve
– David Warlick

As I have re-immersed myself in education-technology recently, I have been paying particular attention to the array of digital tools and the blogs of some prominent reform thinkers. As a result, I came across the K12 Online Conference, which is a fascinating asynchronous professional development opportunity that fully leverages the power of the technology tools now readily available.

The keynote speech was presented by one of edtech’s foremost heavy-hitters David Warlick. Entitled “Inventing New Boundaries,” it is a short movie that features Warlick moving around to various locations that serve to metaphorically strengthen his presentation.

Overall, it is a kind of extension of his blog and podcast material, but he makes some wonderful points about the nature of education today. While none of it is ground breaking or even completely original, Warlick is a wonderful synthesizer with an easy-going, genteel demeanor that is both engaging and charismatic. It is interesting stuff for anyone interested in how the world’s changing is impacting education. I highly recommend giving it a look.

His main thesis is establishing three major issues converging conditions:

  • Info-Savvy Students – Yet they still need assistance to learn how to work the information.
  • New Information Literacy – Yet they still need help to create opportunities; need to work in responsive environments; safely make mistakes; earn audience and attention.
  • Unpredictable Future – Most powerfully the young need models to help teach them how to teach themselves.

One of the more interesting analogies was a reference to Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and the creative problem solving of the protagonist. The Ender’s Game discussion of boundaries reminds me of the intricacies and subtleties of the folksonomy idea. Now that the traditional boundaries are disappearing, that doesn’t mean that there is no need for boundaries. In fact, it puts more responsibility on the learner to erect their own boundaries and taxonomy, in order to establish some kind of order and frame for their learning. Of course, this act is constantly changing, evolving, fusing together the individual and experience.

The whole thing has really got me thinking, as you might have noticed, especially as I begin preparatoin to venture into online teaching. That’s right, I will be teaching a class completely online, for the first time, next semester. I am very much looking forward to what the rest of the conference.

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