Assessment, empowerment, and rethinking current definitions and approaches in education were the themes that resonated most with me. Will Richardson closed the day by talking about how instead of trying to make what we already do "better" (with or without technology) we instead need to try to do things differently. Many people also spoke about shifting ownership of learning from teachers to students while also redefining the role of teachers in the classroom. Someone pointed out (Alan November?) that teachers are more important now than ever before.
Alan November, Gary Stager, Heidi Hayes Jacob, Dennis Littky, Luyen Chou, and Will Richardson (mentioned above) spoke excellently about the themes outlined above. Check out the TEDxNYED website for information about the speakers and for the live-stream videos. Edited versions coming soon, or so I hear.
Steve Bergen's talk was both engaging and bizarre (@bkolani said it's like the movie Memento) and the dual talk of John Ellrodt and Maria Fico was very unique. One of the most powerful moments of the day was when two students video-conferenced in to share their work.
I also enjoyed following the Twitter back-channel and seeing what people were saying. My happiest discovery was EDTECH HULK. I have no idea if this person was in the audience or just following the back-channel, but the commentary provided by the Hulk was both humorous and insightful.
The day ran very smoothly and the venue was spectacular. Kudos to the organizers for a job well done.
When I think of TED talks, I think of progressive ideas and innovations being presented by passionate people. While everyone who spoke was indeed passionate about their work, there were several times when felt that I was at an ordinary ed-tech conference where presenters were talking about the work that they have done without stretching my imagination to think beyond what I might already know or be aware of.
Not So Much
Purely from a logistical standpoint, I don't like eating lunch at 1:30. I also wonder if blocks of 3 speakers at 15-18 minutes each rather than 4 or 5 speakers would break up the heavy lecture feel. I also like slightly longer breaks to be able to catch up with fellow educators and have a moment to discuss what we had heard in the previous session. I did like 4 session blocks instead of 5 (as there were last year).
I'm sure that many people were feeling exhausted and restless by the final session, which did have five presenters. Though the speakers were all very good, I think it was a little unfair for them because many people had left the conference after the third session and many who remained were beginning to fade.
Personally, I don't think it's necessary to stream in TED talk videos as part of the conference, though I understand the organizers' need to complete the different strands of the program. It might also be part of the TEDx rules.
Header photo by Robert S. Donovan