Friday, December 12, 2008

Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation -- Texas, Maybe, Someday?

What is Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation?

Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation is a one day conference/meetup for teachers, administrators, students, school board members, parents and anyone who is interested in education. It will be held on Saturday, February 21st, 2009, from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm at Heritage High School in Littleton, Colorado, USA (different location than last year - here’s a map). We assume most folks will be from Colorado, but everyone is welcome to attend, and we are working on some ideas for virtual participation.

Education is conversation. Conversation creates change.

The future of education does not exist in the isolated world of theory and abstract conference sessions. Instead, it exists in conversations. It exists in creating a robust learning network that is ever-expanding and
just-in-time. Learning 2.0 is not the beginning of this conversation. It is merely a stopping point, a time to talk about the visible difference that we all seek.
We read. We reflect. We write. We share. We learn.
Check out Bud the Teacher's blog for more info.

I have yet to participate in one of these conferences, although it's going to happen soon.

It still feels that the gap between the families/students/teachers I'm most concerned about are located on the other side of a wide chasm...the third world that exists within this first world of ours. I'm personally getting somewhat geeky and racking up many hours learning/using social media...
But my dear, dear undersourced and problem-plagued communities, what can I do to help build the bridge? On the one hand I know some very dedicated and powerful grass-roots community leaders who have engendered and catalyzed leadership, self-sufficiency and economic growth in the poorest of colonias in south Texas and who see computer technology, online communication and social media as frills, distractions and unessential to basic community development.

At the other end of this multi-strand, perhaps cubic, environment, are some super-geek/multi-talented classroom teachers who look down their techie noses at some educators just attempting to use email. I overheard one such God's-tech-gift-to-teaching say under her breath "Why are these tech-retards presenting the cutting edge of their tech sophistication by how fancy their Power Point slides are?"

Recent painful experience: A state-wide, required three-day conference for all the schools in the state that are in school improvement (Not passing AYP). My ten minute presentation was followed by a forty minute lecture with what felt like too many slildes. The audience of 600+ administrators did not look engaged.

I was desperately attempting to keep my eyelids from closing and faking intense attention on the speaker. It wasn't just that the technology was mis-used, but that our current 60+ years of well documented/researched knowledge of best practices in the teaching of adults were being ignored. Technology and small group participation could have made that morning a much more lively, productive and memorable (for the right reasons) experience for those beleagered administrators.

Back to Learning 2.0 in Colorado. My dream is to see an explosion of Parents Learning 2.0, in a language undertandable to parents, and in a location close to where they live. I envision the school age children as the ambassadors and bridges for their families to Learning 2.0. I have had some small windows of insight (lower-case and not related to Microsoft) with the Youth Education Tekies So, more power to the Learning 2.0 gatherings.

Nevertheless I am a child advocate who has chosen to focus on family leadership in education, and within that direction to specifically connect with and for families that are poor, minority, and speak a language other than English.
So I and those of the same cause have to figure out simultaneously how to bridge the technology gap in the poor neighborhoods and under-resourced neighborhood public schools.

Maybe the Community Technology Centers could be re-vived and given new life, new partnerships with neighborhood public schools and become the sites where children bridge both language and technology for their families. If the economic boost that the new administration supports includes as serious investment in education and technology we might take some large steps in that direction.

One never loses hope, do one?

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