Friday, December 12, 2008

Digital Education Leadership Conference - Goin' Hollywood!

This week I was honored to be among a group of invited educators, technologists, district IT gurus and some of the leaders in the space where technology and learning collide...often with unintended results at the DELC 'Let's Go Hollywood' Conversation.

The world famous Magic Castle was the site of an amazing kick-off reception on Wednesday night where conference opening speaker Mark Seigel dazzled the crowd not with his inspiring insights about the possibilities for education but with...wait for it...Card Tricks!

The conference room at the Hollywood Renascence Hotel may have been small but the ideas were big, from Mr. Seigle's quite elegant connection to a quality education today solving the problems of tomorrow to Matt Federoff's demonstration VICCI, a beautiful, simple and intuitive online curriculum management system he created for the Vail, AZ School District.

Matt told us how they made Empire High School a textbook free zone. Sounds radical right? Well, to hear him tell the story it just made more sense economically to take the money they would spend on textbooks that become quickly out of date and spend it on laptops that can access a world of information and resources that's always current and relevant. Crazy right? Revolutionary? No, as it turns out just incredibly smart! Seriously, who do these people think they are?!

How does dynamic and appealing media like video games fit into classrooms in urban and rural areas? Pretty easily it would seem for those willing to try was the message I got from Adrian Hall who came all the way from the UK to show us how he hacked a PS2 dance mat to help schools teach 2nd language skills and how applications for the DS and other systems, and social networks are challenging what constitutes 'educational technology'.

There were also great conversations with Rowan Trollope of Symantec about cyber-citizenship and Ben Hope of Fox Network with the skinny on how a fully digital production, post production and distribution model saves money but is also pretty good for the environment.

I think one of the most intriguing activities the group engaged in was what I can only describe as a Constitutional Convention for a Student's Bill of Rights and I think the DELC got much more for the convention than they expected as the conversation touched on digital privacy, the importance of safe learning communities, what choice and voice does the student have regarding who teaches them what they learn. What does 'going to school' mean for the future of about a world where we don't use the word school? Can a quality education be guaranteed for all learners if learning spaces don't have 4 walls and a whiteboard?

Having conversations like this with anyone passionate about education would be a thrill, in my case it was extra cool to be in to company of friends like my buddy (and fellow AFI exile) Mitch Aiken, Julie Drake & Chrystal Maggiore from the LA County Ed Office and some of my favorite Screen Ed workshop grads Barbara Barkemeyer my Google Teacher Academy classmate Jeremy Davis, and Kieth Lawrence from the Mary Pickford Institute. Thanks to the folks at the Center for Digital Education and their sponsors for a great couple of days of ideas, arguments, demos and Magic in Hollywood!
As they say...That's a wrap!


Matt Federoff said...

A couple corrections for your posting. It's Matt Federoff , not Mark, and I'm from Vail, Arizona, not CO. you were very complimentary to my work (and I'm grateful, thank you).... yet a few lines down seem somewhat dismissive of it overall. Which is more accurate?

Frank Guttler said...

Hi Matt-
Thanks for reaching out, and I'm appreciative of your corrections.
I think the work you are doing is truly amazing for teachers and your students. My voice, which is new to blogging, sometimes does not do justice to my sense of genuine awe at what I encounter at these gatherings. As a new teacher, I'm inspired and hugely respectful of what you've done. You are boldly and creatively innovating.

Joe B said...

Wow! What a gathering! I look forward to picking your brain more about this next time we meet. And give my best to Mitch the next time you run into him.