Wednesday, July 25, 2007

November Learning in July at BLC 07

BLC Official ProgramThe November Learning conference was titled Building Learning Communities, but this time around was mostly about “Education 2.0” I think i.e. “Leveraging Web 2.0 Tools for Education”.

I was/am familiar with several of the technology tools discussed, and have used them to varying degrees – blogs, wikis, RSS, podcasts, vodcasts, digital storytelling, social networking, and such. So what was great for me was meeting people from all over Marc Prensky, Shuchi Grover(there were educators from Ireland, Scotland, England, Australia, Guatemala, El Salvador, in addition to the majority that was from all corners of the US including Alaska! It was great to share my story from India on and my other work - during my session and elsewhere.

The biggest take-away for me was making real world connections with the likes of Marc Prensky (in pic here), Will Richardson (of weblogg-ed fame), Marco Torres (more on him and his amazing students later), Howie DiBlasi (of the “Did you Know” video shared on this blog), Bob Sprankle (serial podcaster), and Ewan McIntosh and of course, Alan November (the force behind this conference); and forging friendships with teachers from far-away places like Alaska, Alabama and Australia.

Shuchi Grover presenting at BLC07The keynote address by Dr. Yang Zhao on the final day was rich in wit and examples (mostly from China/ Singapore/ Taiwan/ Korea) that reflect the stark realities of the dual lives (real and virtual) of today's cyber-kids! Tim Tyson and Angela McFarlane (and Mitch Resnick – see my blog post about his address) were the other keynote speakers and all had interesting stories to share Alan November– Tim Tyson shared his awesome student podcasts from Mabry School, and Angela, some interesting insights from her Asian doctoral students’ research work on online communities.

Alan November’s ideas on School Redesign (aimed specifically at restructuring the US schools) made a lot of sense – in his truly unique, wacky style he provokes and debates in a way that makes you sit up and listen! He put together this fabulous event for people to connect and meet and create new learning communities that straddle the real world as well as the Web (2.0) world.

Marco Torres with his talented students - Rosa and ConsuelaMy fondest memories are those of Marco Torres’ 4 students – Miguel, Rosa, Consuela, and Isaac. These young college students brought such “young energy” to the conference, and the work they have produced as film-makers – ever since they were high school students of Marco – is simply breathtaking (see the iCan series here). They captured this conference in their innumerable videos and vodcasts, and even did a session for educators! Marco, your students must do you proud!

All in all, an interesting, enjoyable week at BLC07 replete with learning, sharing, connecting and community-building!

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