Educon2.2 – not just a technology conference….

From the beginning, Educon 2.2 presented by Science Leadership, asserted that it is not a “technology conference”, but a conversation for educators to come together from across the world to talk about strategies, best practices, changes, ideas and concerns relating to education for today and for tomorrow. This post will focus on my experience and how this experience satisfied the Guiding Principals of Educon, that:

– Our schools must be inquiry-driven, thoughtful and empowering for all members

– Our schools must be about co-creating – together with students – like the 21st Century Citizen,

– Technology must serve pedagogy, not the other way around

– Technology must enable students to research, create, communicate and collaborate

– Learning can – and must- be networked (from: Educon, The Axioms)

The idea of Educon, in itself was built on the above ingredients and like chemistry, these Axioms rely on one another for the whole to function.

First – ‘inquiry driven, thoughtful and empowering’. I attended a conversation with Ben Hazzard and Rodd Lucier that was just that: A Field Guide for Change Agents. The main idea for this conversation was, that educators need to build trust with colleagues in order to bring about effective change in our schools. The presentors  asked questions like –  How can we ensure professional discourse effectively considers voices of students, parents and teachers? What is at stake if change agents fail to engage others?

Kudos to Ben and Rod. They not only managed to succeed in delivery a thoughtful discussion, but they also demonstrated a teaching strategy that meets every Guiding Principal of Educon. By creating a collaborative book, using open source software (google docs/pp), they modeled an inquiry driven lesson that was about co-creating, using technology to serve their objective and to enable the audience to communicate and collaborate. Most of all, they modeled the power of a network. The book was being created across North America through a back channel. The result was a collaborative book that can now be accessed world wide –

Creating a stage where people can work together collaboratively is pretty impressive- but that is not what excited me the most. It was when I heard a couple of the participants say: Don’t you think we could use this exact teaching strategy with our students? I wonder if that was Ben and Rodd’s purpose right from the beginning without saying it.

It was fantastic to have the opportunity to participate in a discussion with Chris Lehmann (principal of SLA) a visionary and leader in education. His conversation focused specifically on Leadership 2.0.  Like Ben Hazzard and Rodd Lucier, Chris did not provide answers but asked questions.

  • What do we leaders need to be?
  • Inquiry – what does it mean?
  • How does inquiry affect change in education?

Chris reinforced the notion that inquiry is natural and that questions are asked to engage. He used the word “empower” over and over. Empower the students, empower the teachers, empower the parents, “even when they do things that we wouldn’t’…empower them. He reminded us that leadership is NOT being an expert, nor is it being a follower. It is about building a vision that is powerful enough for people to want it and broad enough for people to own it. He calls this “ Communities of Care” and good leaders do this by Visioning, Modeling, Leading and Sustaining.

I also joined Alec Couros and Dean Shareski in their discussion about innovations in teacher education, specifically about new literacies for preservice teachers. This session was particularly powerful for me because of my role as Associate Teacher for Brock University. I am currently on a writing team for Brock in developing an AQ course for Associate Teachers to help them prepare pre-service teacher candidates for 21st century teaching and learning skills.  It was fascinating to participate both in the back channel discussion as well in-person with educators from around the world, all of whom demonstrated great concern for how new teachers are being trained. Required years of teacher education differ from country to country and state to state. Salary, quality of school, demographics, and district vision were factors for every single leader in the room.  Both Dean and Alec provided an inspirational role of what is possible for teacher candidates. Both engage all potential teachers in the world of Web 2.0 and open source professional development. The Educon Axioms, that learning can and must- be networked was emphasized over an over as was the idea that we must demand learning and teaching that is inquiry-driven, thoughtful and empowering for all members.

I was truly inspired and engaged by each of the conversations and presentation – and my mind opened up a little more to what is possible. However, there were many “unofficial” conversations at Educon that impacted me most, and my profession as educator more than I could have ever imagined. I met many incredible educators, many of whom I have been collaborating with for months. It was great to finally meet @DoremiGirl , @lizbdavis and @lthumann who are educators that inspire. I enjoyed talking and laughing with @ransomtech and @chrischampion.

In Picture (thanks to @aforgraves photostream)
@lizbdavis @bhwilkoff@courosa@ransomtech@jonbecker
@shareskib @thecleversheep@RickTanski@crafty184@lthumann@mwacker@msjweir (taking pic for me)@aforgrave

I admit, I was a little star struck when I finally met David Warlick a true visionary and author that set me on a mission to always teach with innovation and to keep learning along the way. It was a great moment.

My journey with the Ontario Cohart of educators was truly meaningful for me. Jamie Weir from the Avon Maitland District School Board, Andy Forgrave @aforgrave from: Hastings & Prince Edward District School Board, Rodd Lucier (@thecleversheep) from  London District Catholic School Board; Ben Hazzard (@benhazzard)  from: Lambton Kent District School Board and me – @zbpipe from Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board –

Five Educators from different districts in Ontario all working in different streams of education are sharing and learning and collaborating. How wonderful is that for professional development?


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