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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

iNACOL 2013

I have just finished attending my first iNACOL conference. Imagine a group of educators gathering with a common dream to improve educational experiences for students. One of the things that most impressed me with this conference was that despite the fact that everyone at the conference was interested in using technology in their classrooms, that was not the focus. Everything was focused on students, and improving education for them. I was awed and inspired and challenged by the presenters and my fellow conference attendees.

Here are a sampling of the "big ideas" I took away from my first iNACOL:

We are striving to prepare an ever more diverse population of students for an increasingly challenging and rapidly changing future. The problems we face in modernity are more complex than those of the past, and today's students need to be tomorrow's leaders and problem solvers. We have a duty to prepare students to meet their future with confidence, capacity, and competency. Dewey said it best: ""

As educators, we need to develop a critical understanding of how the brain works, and specifically how the brain learns (cognitive science), so that we can apply that knowledge in our classrooms to solve problems.

We cannot rely on technology to solve our educational problems. We need brain research-based solutions that are student centered. Technology can be used as a tool to implement our solutions and scale them, but the technology itself will never solve our problems.

We must become design experts, understanding how to engage students in relevant issues, training them to think critically, analytically, quantitatively, qualitatively, globally, locally, etc. Everything we do should start with the student experience, and we should build out from there.

We need to train students to solve problems that are based in the real world.

We need to give students choice in what they learn, how they learn it, and when they learn it. We need to empower students to drive their own personalized education and hold them to high standards when demonstrating their mastery of material.

Some traits of successful persons in the future will be: adaptability, creativity, learn from mistakes, perseverance, the ability to understand complex systems without being reductionist, growth oriented, curious, able to make connections...