Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Nerdy Teacher at FIT #EdChat

A few months ago, I was asked by a faculty member at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) to be on a panel to talk about Cloud Computing for the EdTechDay Conference. I am really the last person that should be allowed anywhere near FIT. The only thing I have going for me in the fashion realm is that my clothes will eventually come back in style and will be considered vintage. Having said that, this is not my first adventure in the world of high fashion. Please look at this picture from my Senior year high school fashion show as proof.

Sorry ladies, I'm married. 
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Kristen Swanson was going to be on the panel with me. I've known Kristen for a little while through conferences and Twitter, so I was excited to sit and chat with her.  Here is a break down of the panel and the description of the session.

Three things stood out to me while in NYC.

Dancing with the Clouds

As I looked over the different sessions, I was very interested in seeing what a dance professor from Buffalo was doing with the cloud in his classes. Professor Carlos Jones was a great presenter. I sat in a  room with other arts teachers who wanted to know how technology could be leveraged in their classes. We were not let down. Professor Jones utilized Youtube and Voicethread in his classes. He has students record their dance moves, upload them to Voicethread and he would critique their work. It was actually a fairly simple process.

Professor Jones also emphasized that he is not a tech expert. He only learned about these tools in May and had just started to work with them in his Fall classes. You couldn't tell from the work he shared with us. His students, not all dance majors, were engaged in the projects and excited to show off their dance moves. A fairly athletic young man cleared his dorm room and did some ballet in front of a camera to be shared with the professor. It seemed so natural for him.

The thing that struck me most about this session was the fact that the professor kept saying the term "flip" without ever talking about the flipped classroom. He had created a flipped classroom in his college dance class without ever being taught about the flipped classroom. This stuck out to me because some people are so intent on teaching a term, that the process can get lost in the shuffle. While many people might now what the cloud is, many people use it on a regular basis without realizing it. This thought is going to change the way I approach teaching teachers. The name doesn't matter. I need to focus on the process. This was an excellent class and a great example of how technology can be embedded into the Arts.

The Panera Session

After the opening Keynote, Kristen and I decided to grab a snack before heading to our first session. We found a Panera close by and grabbed a booth and started chatting. Like I said, Kristen and I know each other, but have never really had a chance to sit and talk. I'm very glad we had the chance. We talked all things tech and education and I learned about the NY Public School System and her job working with teachers. We shared similar stories of IT frustration how teachers in different states react the same way to frustration.

I also had a chance to pick her brain regarding her time as a Director of Technology. I have not been secret about my desire to take a position like this and have had offers to consider. It is just great to here what other people have done and the issues they have faced in that position. I respect the work Kristen does and her opinion was very helpful as I move closer to a decision.

Kristen and I joked about how some people, outside of ed tech, will just not understand how two people can talk for an hour about ed tech. Those in the know, know.

The Panel

The panel had some diverse viewpoints. Kristen and I were the only two of the five that were actually involved in education. The other three were Mark Burke – CEO viaEdTechnologiesJay Chakrapani – Vice President Digital Products McGraw Hill Higher Ed.  and Andrew Cohen – CEO Brain Scape. Putting educators on a panel with non-educators can be a very bad situation. There were times when Kristen and I both reached for the mic in response to some, lets just say "interesting", responses from the business world. 

I think their is a time and place for business to talk about how their product can help revolutionize the educational world. However, I feel that an audience of professors would much rather hear from teachers who get their hands dirty with the cloud. This was evident from the questions asked by the audience. It was a fun hour of conversation moderated by the thickest French accent I have ever heard in person. 

The entire day was exciting and blog inspiring. I have another post I still need to work on concept of branding. Alice Marwick gave an interesting Keynote that really made me think about educational bloggers and the way we brand ourselves both knowingly and unknowingly. 

Have a great Sunday everyone!

- @TheNerdyTeacher

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