Presentation vs. Conversation

There’s learning to be had. Horizons to be broadened. Minds to be expanded (this can include yours and your students by the way). How do you best learn? This post has been stirring around for a while now, and I believe it was my good friend Steven Anderson that sparked it. He had tweeted something to the effect of, “How do we get away from the negative connotation of ‘making a presentation’?” My reply was, “How about ditching the word ‘presentation’ altogether?”.

This led me to think about Educon 2.3, which is coming up in about a week and a half. I’ve always liked how Educon referred to the sessions as “conversations” rather than “presentations.” Every session at Educon will be “an opportunity to discuss and debate ideas — from the very practical to the big dreams.”

Let me clarify that I’m not trying to bash the idea of a traditional presentation. I’ll further clarify by saying that to me a “traditional presentation” is defined as one in which an audience sits and listens while information is presented on a screen at the front of the room. Do you think too much of this model is happening in our classrooms? What if more schools adopted the Educon model of conversing with their students instead of presenting to them?

Is there a place for this in K-12? Are we designing learning spaces effectively to foster this type of collaborative learning? How can we design lessons that foster both types of learning?

So back to my original question: How do you best learn? Listening to a presentation or being part of a conversation?

It’s an “UN” Thing

Have you noticed what’s happening in educational professional development? It’s spreading like wildfire around the country. I’m talking about the un-conference. If you’re unfamiliar with the term it’s a planned, yet very informal gathering of educators. The event itself and the location is scheduled well in advance. However, the sessions are not advertised until the day of the event. Why? It’s because the participants of the un-conference are the driving force behind the learning that takes place that day. When attendees arrive that morning, those wishing to present can select a time slot and topic they would like to present on. When all the time slots are filled, the day’s sessions have been planned. It’s then published to share with the rest of the attendees and one then can select the sessions they’d like to attend for the day.

There’s one planned for the Kansas City area, called EdCampKC, on Saturday November 6th. All of the details of the event can be found at I really feel that this area of the Midwest can benefit from this type of gathering that will allow teachers to learn from other teachers all around our part of the country. We, the attendees completely drive the learning for the day. As far as I can tell, we’ll be the furthest West edcamp to date! Educators from Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Texas, Michigan, Nebraska, and Minnesota are coming so far. That is exciting! The brain power that’s coming is outstanding.

EdCampKC is a completely sponsor driven event. That is how we make this event completely FREE for all in attendance. Sponsors are covering facility costs, insurance costs, and providing goodies and giveaways. If you are interested in either attending EdCampKC or sponsoring EdCampKC in some way, please get registered on the wiki or fill out the form on our Sponsors page.

I am honored and humbled that so many are making the commitment to travel long distances to come to this event, as well as the financial commitment required. I say a heartfelt thank you to all that are planning on coming and I hope the number attending continues to increase over the next 2 1/2 months. I could also not do this without the support from so many in my PLN that have encouraged this event. We have an awesome website, lots of awesome sponsors, and many more that are helping to spread the word. I could not do this alone. Only together will EdCampKC be a success. We’re still 2 months away! It’s only going to get better!



I dare you to not be excited!

Things I’m excited about and I hope you will share in at least some of my excitement with me:

Get excited by vintage letterpress
Flickr image by John Christopher

1. My PLN. How can you not be excited about what your PLN can/will do for you and what it continues to do 24/7? It’s like the Energizer Bunny of professional development! I was amazed at the number of responses I received as to why teachers should have a PLN the other day when I shared Twitter with them. This type of collaboration and communication is exciting! I truly feel we’re on the brink of something big with social networking and the real-time web in education. This is something to be excited about!

2. My new “old” friends. I feel like I’ve known so many of you for such a long time. Many of you I met for the first time last month at #ISTE10. We jumped right into conversation like it was old hat. I suppose in a virtual way it was. 🙂 Remember: It’s Just The Beginning. This is something to be excited about!

3. #EdChat. I am honored to be a moderator for the evening edition of this educational forum. Every Tuesday at noon and 7PM EST there is great conversation happening. Sure it’s fast paced, no doubt about it. Jump in when you can with maybe just a few. The conversations are happening well beyond the pre-determined hour(s) that #EdChat takes place. We have our Facebook page. You can also find the archive over at the #EdChat wiki. Then of course we have the EDU PLN Ning. The conversation does not even stop there. Blog posts a-plenty are published every week as post-#edchat reflections. This is something to be excited about!

4. More technology in students’ hands. I keep hearing so many great things about schools, districts, teachers, and administrators that are making this the priority it needs to be. We’ve got administrators like Eric Sheninger, George Couros, Deron Durflinger, Chris Lehmann, and John Carver. Teachers like Nick Provenzano, Simon Crook, Cory Plough, Yoon Soo Lim, and Shannon Miller. Technology leaders like Jason Bedell, Mary Beth Hertz, Howard Chan, Sue Waters, and Paul Wood. The lists could go on and on. Is technology an amazing tool for us to teach with? Absolutely! Let’s get more of it in students’ hands. At least somewhat regularly, if not daily. This is something to be excited about!

What are you excited about when you think of technology’s impact on teaching and learning? I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading.