Guest blog post from BbWorld 2012 Blogger, JD Ferries-Rowe. For additional content, click here.


Harnessing the Power of Social Media with @NMHS_Principal
Talk about a change…this session is what keynotes should be: focused on education, challenging and inspiring, with real-world examples and a smattering of sappy inspirational videos.
The lead in was a challenge: It is a problem that those who are tasked with leading our schools, with developing 21st century skills are sometimes the least knowledgeable. While a few schools are reinventing themselves for the digital age, most are not.


We want our teachers to be adapters, communicators, learners, visionaries, leaders, models, collaborators, and risk-takers. — whew. When you look at that list, it is overwhelming. But imagine if we created a system where the teachers who left the profession left because they did not fit that model, not because they were drained from 45 days of examinations per year or because their checklist evaluations combined with a metric of student-value-add indicated that they were only so-so. Its a stretch goal, but its achievable.


How do we start? We start by getting teachers to share their visions…by getting teachers to converse with others…by using social media.


Interesting point: Education is changing (collaborative, student centered), the landscape is changing (content overload, distributed learning opportunities, free sources), the learners are changing (connected, social learners, gamers, tech-as-default) — but education keeps looking the same.
He preached the #digcit mantra and talked about PLNs


He showed the social media revolution YouTube video


Ultimately, he gave six basic reasons why social media must be considered by schools:

 

  • Communications – the quick way to get information out to many audiences
  • Public Relations – totally controlled, always good news, easy pickup for media outlets
  • Branding – Who we are is clear and photos and blogs give examples of the good
  • Professional Growth – Hashtag chats anyone?
  • Student Engagement – meeting them where they are. showing respect for their mode gives them the opportunity to reciprocate
  • Opportunity – as a result of the PR, the branding, the new ideas and new systems, Vendors and companies and alumni gave the students MORE opportunities — to test equipment, visit new places, converse with experts in a variety of fields.

…and it only cost time.


Reflection: I have been a big fan of @nmhs_principal on twitter and was happy to find him passionate, engaging, inspiring, and approachable. Why this person did not keynote the lackluster mainfloor shows at #iste12 is beyond me. We need real, passionate, actual administrators in our schools.

Day One Keynote: Freeman Hrabowski, President of University of Maryland Baltimore County (Quickhit fact: 3500 attendees)

Aside: The music entering the auditorium was blasting, It was a great way to energize people in the late afternoon. There is something odd about an educational conference playing “Girls Girls Girls” — lets face it, there is a subtext to that song that may not be appropriate. The only thing i could come up with was that with the closing of #devcon12 and the opening of #bbw12 proper, they were really excited to see more females.


Anytime you start with Maya Angelou, you are on the right track
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
His premise: the language that we use, the values that we hold — that is what we will become. It is true of our selves, true of our students, and true of our schools.


He showed this through videos, historical examples, and even spontaneous audience quizzes. The more that we focus on the student, the better off we will be in terms of educating. It was a powerful message that spanned issues of affordability and access (we can no longer be happy that students can be educated — they also have to succeed), market impacts (schools playing to their strengths, leveraging technology to transform), and the issues in education that are seldom referenced such as the need to address globalization, a general lack of ethics in society, and the paradigm shifts that have come with free access to information.


He ended on a high note, sharing a personal account of learning through his experience during the civil rights movement. It was powerful.


Reflection on two points:
STEM and its predominance in education. Hrabowski gave some impressive statistics, drawing fine links between STEM graduates and the GDP of a country.  it was powerful, but I am not sure if it was persuasive or even consistent with the keynote. During the keynote, he kept referencing the importance of personalization and beyond that, fostering in our students the creative spark that leads to solving major problems, shifting paradigms, opening new markets, etc. Just creating tool-makers and tool-users will never be enough. The study of STEM, to get the full benefits of the GDP tie, must also be connected to developing that innovative spirit… I just kept thinking that I wanted to see a podcast conversation between this keynote speaker and Yong Zhao from #ISTE12.


The second reflection we may go into more depth on in the VLOG (production note: Jen’s macbook power cord may be done for, in which case, production may be moved to Friday). Throughout the keynote, we heard about the necessity of data-driven decision making and guiding our actions through data. But in each instance, the point was driven home through the use of an anecdote, or a personal example, or a video of a class showing the impact — we even saw a personal video testimony about the power of data! While we claim to be moving to a data-driven world, the human connection is still necessary and we have to move away from this strange denial. More on this later.

 

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