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Things I learned at my first Barcamp

A little more than a week ago I attended my first Barcamp.  Prior to the event I was filled with anticipation because I had heard from others how much they learned from and enjoyed the “unconference” venue.  Additionally, the rules of the event require those in attendance to be participants (not just spectators), usually by giving a presentation.  While I am used to giving presentations, I was anxious to present in an environment where I had no context of the type or topic of presentations.  Looking back now, I can say that my experience at BarcampSeou4 was very positive.

A few things that I learned about Barcamps:

  1. The Right People – The people who show up to a particular barcamp ARE the right people.  There really are no “wrong” people at a barcamp.  BarcampSeoul4 was the first international barcamp in Korea.  The people in attendance had very different backgrounds.  Some were from Korea, but many countries were represented.  Some were from a business background, other were from K-12 education and others from higher education.  It was exhilarating to interact and share with people from very diverse backgrounds.
  2. No Expectations – One of the most powerful parts of a barcamp is that you do not arrive with specific expectations because you have no idea of the topics that will be presented until you arrive and set the schedule for the day.
  3. Bring an Inquiring Mind – When you put people from various backgrounds into a room and they begin to present on topics that they are passionate about, you can’t help but have rich discussion.  Be prepared to ask questions, connect the experiences and ideas of other people with your own experiences, and to learn.

A few things that I took away from BarcampSeoul4:

  1. As an educator in a K-12 school, I often think about preparing students for university.  However, I rarely interact with university educators.  At BarcampSeoul4 a large portion of those in attendance were university professors.  Listening to their presentations and interacting with them made me think about how much K-12 schools need to spend time on university campuses and research current trends in higher education.
  2. Virtualization is here to stay.  The physical world is something we are familiar with and comfortable with… however, the cross-over between the physical and the virtual worlds and the ways the virtual world will be governed are very interesting topics.  As much as many educators would like to protect students from the virtual world, it is here to stay and students must be able to navigate it successfully.  This presentation was particularly interesting to me: [ ?posts_id=2839393&dest=-1]
  3. Don’t prepare for your presentation at the last minute…  my presentation was put together early on the morning of the Barcamp.  I wish that argument and presentation would have been much more cohesive, but it wasn’t.  On the other hand, I am tremendously glad that I did present.  The discussion was interesting and I’ve had a number of follow-up conversations with faculty at my school since the barcamp.  Here is my presentation: [ ?posts_id=2839430&dest=-1]

Digital Portfolios – Positive Feedback

Digital Portfolios - for Parent Coffee.001This week I have given two presentations concerning the digital portfolios that are being launched in our middle school.  My expectation was that there would be some resistance to both the launching of portfolios and that they would be digital (online).  It has been surprising to experience positive reactions from both groups that experienced the presentations.

On Monday, during our middle school faculty professional development meeting, faculty reflected on the value of portfolios from different perspectives (students, parents & faculty), discussed an overview of the implementation of the digital portfolios at our school, and began to build common expectations for the portfolios.  On Wednesday I was able to introduce the digital portfolio idea to a group of middle school parents during our Middle School Principal’s Coffee meeting.  Both groups were very receptive and were overwhelmingly in agreement that making the portfolios digital was the best choice.Digital Portfolios - for Parent Coffee.002

I am looking forward to meeting with small groups of middle school students to introduce them to their portfolio (a Google Site Wiki) and teach them how to use it.  We still have considerable work to do so that we all agree on the responsibilities and expectations that each group in the community should fulfill, but we are off to a good start.

Further, I am confident that our digital portfolio initiative will enhance student learning and lead us to hold successful student led conferences in spring.


950 Attempts to Pass an Exam? How many times is too many times?

I believe that students should have the opportunity to evaluate, re-draft, improve and review their work many times.  Most situations in real life allow for “do-overs”.  Often faculty will ask…, “How many times is too many times?”  Faculty also ask, “Is there ever a final deadline?”  Whereas I have ideas on how these questions and principles operate in schools, here is one real-life example of a lady who tried again and again and again to demonstrate that she could meet the goal…

Screen shot 2009-11-09 at 7.26.49 AM

Click the graphic to read the article

While I admire her perseverance, one question that seems obvious is whether or not the woman demonstrated her inability to meet the learning goal(s) by failing the exam so many times.  How many times is too many times?


BarcampSeoul4 – Anticipation

A month or two ago I was alerted to BarcampSeoul4 by Brian Lockwood (@Brianlockwood).  Although familiar with the BarCamp concept, I’ve never participated in one.  Tomorrow that will change.  I am looking forward to participating in my very first barcamp tomorrow  in Seoul.  It is being sponsored by Daum Communications and hosted in their building in Hannam-dong.

Daum Communications Building, Seoul - Event location of BarcampSeoul4

A barcamp is an “un-conference conference” that is mostly organized on the day of the event.  All participants are expected to present.  All presentations are listed at the beginning of the day and participants vote on which presentations they would like to attend.  The agenda for the day is created on the spot.  Each presentation is generally 20 minutes, including questions.

While I haven’t had much time to put together a presentation, I am considering a discussion entitled, “Death to the Libraries”.  Questions surround concepts of future libraries, digitization of literature worldwide, and how e-readers will change the landscape of libraries.

The BarcampSeoul4 website is here.

I expect to report some very interesting things that I will learn from this experience.  Stay tuned.


Screaming Hooray for Screenr

www.screenr.comDemonstrating something for an audience is a powerful thing.  Part of the value is in the “demonstration” and part of the value is in the “audience”.  One of the main reasons I am screaming cheers for Screenr ( is that it combines these two elements from one incredibly simple tool.

Using you can capture (screencast) actions/sound on your computer and easily publish or share (via short url, twitter, youtube) them for an audience.  One of the reasons it is simple is because there is no software to download, it is a web-based recorder.

Creating “how-to” videos has never been simpler!  Students can also use to create a screencast to demonstrate learning.

Recently I created a series of 7 short videos for our faculty on “How to Use Rubicon Atlas” at our school…  I easily published them from to my Youtube channel.  Then, I embedded all 7 videos into a Google Presentation…  Click the image to view:

How to Use Atlas Rubicon Presentation with vids embedded

What ways could be used in the classroom?