Deja Vu – It’s Education Conference Season


The Matrix:

The education conference circuit is in full swing and common language is being shared: Student Voice, Tech-Enabled Learning, 21C, Collaborative Inquiry, Digital Portfolios, Creativity, Critical Thinking …… the rhetoric goes on and on (as part of the machine I say all of this we a flare for self-deprecation).

Sadly, although many conferences provide for great networking opportunities, the ideas being shared are becoming categorized, recycled and in many instances, copied. I am presenting at an upcoming conference where many of the topics have been shared in the past – and workshop descriptions are creating many occurrences of deja vu. This is not to devalue the importance of bringing people together or the opportunity to lead and provoke conversation. I suppose, I am seeking a matrix moment. This is the moment where pre-existing structures are re-imagined within a post-structural lens. Celebrated and infused with new interruption and element of surprise. Think about the slow motion bullet in The Matrix (1999), which has been exhaustively copied since. Think about when Neo moved within a freeze frame space – influenced by the films of John Woo but heightened and enhanced. The Matrix represented a turning point.

How does this all connect to education?

I’m seeking something new. I’m seeking an experience that acknowledges conversations of the past but reinvents convention and expectation.  Within the milieu of the educational conference, this can only be done by eliminating the Pseudo-Expert and ensuring those sharing ideas are actively constructing, reinventing and importantly practicing. For example, and this bold, but a Master of Education is pointless if not actively shaped and reshaped in a classroom with real human beings. I am growing excessively tired of “research” and am seeking action.  Another example. Although, I truly believe and value the practice of Collaborative Inquiry, I want to learn from someone who is doing and ideally hear from students – their experiences and reflections.  ARE WE BEING REAL?

The Authentic:

The PD experienced must be authentic – real. Not real in the sense that the ideas are meaningful but real in that the conversation being shared is rooted in practice. What works? What doesn’t work? What are next steps?  Share examples. What are the tips?

For example, this is great PD. Kristen Wellers, shares how she uses technology to ignite student centered learning – fantastic. Its real, it’s tangible and its transferable. It’s a matrix moment in that it borrows from the existing and reinvents by avoiding limitation. Using just one iPad, Kristen is able to empower students through technology. That is the reinvention – no limitations.

Find more on Kristen here: Blended Learning – Working with One iPAD

Final Thought:

Don’t get me wrong, more often than not, many leading education conferences provide for ideal networking and great inspirational moments. However, as I participant, presenter and consultant, I must provoke. Hell, this includes being my own harshest critic. If I am going to present, it needs to be something I can really speak to – an experience that is real.

Is being REAL, too much to ask?

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