After my long and detailed blog post from Friday, I feel the pressure of trying to match it. I already have failed in that mission since it’s already Monday.
My morning started with breakfast at Con Murphy’s with Ann Leaness and a group of delightful teachers we had just met. We were a little late, and Kevin Jarrett snapped a picture of us sneaking in the door. I was lucky enough that Gerald Aungst had saved me a seat. I was also lucky enough to have Jason Epstein sitting on the other side of me as well. While I didn’t get to really speak with them due to the ‘hush-hush’ nature of the opening session, it was nice to be in good company.
The Opening Remarks
The opening remarks were made by Chris Lehmann and the Central Region Superintendent Marilyn Perez. Perez spoke about how many students need organization and order in their lives, that they should not be judged by their environment or their background and that it is important to get to know your students to better reach them.
Elementary School in the 21st Century
Next I headed toward my first session, “Elementary School in the 21st Century.” The presenter, Brian Crosby, was from a district similar to Philadelphia in its issues and challenges. This is always refreshing. The conversation weaved around passion and how passion is being crushed in some ways due to scripted programs, how passion is important for good instruction, and whether all teachers have the passion they need to be effective. One of the session attendees brought up the concept of clients in education. Some people argued that depending on your role in the school or district, who your client is may vary. While I’m not sure exactly whether we should be considering our students, parents or communities clients, I understand the metaphor. I tend to shy away from putting education in corporate terms.
While I wish that we had more time to discuss what a 21st Century school would look like physically, some thought provoking conversations surrounding the idea that just putting tech in schools does not guarantee that teachers will change the way they teach and that the tech will raise student achievement and engagement. When discussing how to promote tech integration in schools, one session member also brought up that by using the press to show the community what is going on in classrooms, teachers can model innovative uses and gain support for what they are doing with their students. Another attendee shared the wonderful idea of having students present book reports using Skype so parents could watch from home. A few resources were shared, including NetFamilyNews, a site dedicated to sharing resources for parents and families and QuestAtlantis, a 3-D virtual learning world for children ages 9-16.
As I filtered out with the crowd and headed toward my next session, I ran into Jason Ramsden, who had helped me immensely on Twitter while I was learning how to use Prezi. He sent me links and tips that helped me wrap my head around the tool. It was so great to meet him!
I also had a chance to take a quick picture with Patrick Larkin, who I have been talking with for months on Twitter. It was great to connect in ‘real life.’ Unfortunately, he took the picture, and I don’t have a copy!
Field Guide for Change Agents
As I settled into my next session, I was excited to see what the Canadian Invasion, Rodd Lucier and Ben Hazzard had to offer. When they announced that we would be making a book, I got giddy. Nothing better than a ‘make-and-take’ session! They told us to go to a wiki they had created for the session. The purpose of the session was to create a 4 chapter presentation about being a ‘change agent.’ They had created a Google Doc presentation for each Chapter, opening it for editing to everyone. We would all contribute to the book by adding a slide to a chapter with a Creative Commons photo and a quote based on the main idea of the chapter. The chapters were: “Admit it: You’re a Change Agent,” “Challenges of Being a Change Agent,” “Change Agent Toolkit,” and “Mentoring Change Agents: Finding Mutual Support.” It was an engaging session since we were doing the creating and had control over the final end product. I worked with Eric Conti, who came up with a great quote for our first slide.
On a side note, I noticed that in a session of a little over 20 people, 13 of them were using Macs. Is there a correlation between change agents and Macs, I wondered?
Here is our final product:
Stump the Lawyers
My final session of the day was one I was really looking forward to. The presenter, Jon Becker had Justin Bathon from Edjurist.com join us through Wimba Classroom to answer our questions about law and the internet and education. We started by brainstorming questions around law areas such as Freedom of Speech and Search and Seizure. To be honest I can’t remember the other areas because we focused mostly on those two. One of the most eye opening things I learned was that as a government employee, First Amendment rights don’t necessarily apply to me. This was determined in the Garcetti v. Ceballos case of 2006. As a result of learning this, I will be adding a disclaimer to my blog as soon as I click “Publish Post.” We also discussed the extent to which schools can act on what they might find on Facebook or other such sites or social networks. The lawyers said (and disclaimer here: neither claimed that what they were giving was legal advice, but rather conversation for educational purposes only) that it would require the event or incident to constitute a ‘disruption of school.’ With such vague language, we agreed that this could be interpreted many ways, but that reports of the event or incident had to be based on fact, not suspicion for the school to act. In addition, should the site or conversation in question be public, the school could act fairly quickly, but should it occur, for instance, on a private Facebook page, there would be a need to execute a search and seizure of the account in question.
An interesting thing I learned was that some schools and districts actually tell their teachers that they can’t friend their students on Facebook. Most likely this wouldn’t hold up in court because (at least at this time) there is no law to support it. In addition, some schools have an ‘assumed’ Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and only require parents to sign it if they opt out. The AUP is printed in the Parent Handbook. I agreed with the lawyers that it’s smarter to have something signed than just assume that parents have read and agree with the AUP.
One place where the lawyers were a little stumped was during the discussion of teachers setting up accounts for students under 13. We considered scenarios where cases of cyberbullying might reflect back on the teacher for setting up the account or where the individual may be held accountable for breaking the Terms of Service of the site.
On the highly-debated topic of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), it was as I’d always thought. The lawyers have never seen a case where a court has cracked down on a school. Schools comply with CIPA because if they didn’t, they’d lose federal E-Rate money. Worse case scenario, the school would lose its funding.
The question also arose about the use of personal hand-held devices by students in school while using 3G or public networks. Most of the conversation supported the viewpoint that on a private or non-district network the individual would be held responsible for what is sent over the network.
Post-Session Down Time
After the day’s sessions, the members of the EdCamp Philly team met for a brief meeting.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of decompressing time in Ann’s hotel room with Rob Rowe pre-Rembrandts, and I don’t have any photos of the wonderful conversations I had with Ann, Sean Nash, Jaime Dial, Shelly Blake-Plock, Andy Marcinek, Paul Bogush, Rodd Lucier and Ben Hazzard or my happy meeting of Lisa Thumann and Alec Corous. I ended up staying till almost 2am, so I slept late on Sunday. But that’s a blog post for another day!
Thanks to Kevin Jarrett, the Paparazzi of the edtech community for the beautiful photos!