Learning 2 : Re-Imagine : Shift the Narrative

In October, Jeff and I attended Learning 2 Asia at Saigon South in Vietnam. It was (another) great Learning 2 experience…I was reunited with some awesome people, met lots of new ones (several that I felt like I already knew thanks to the internets), explored a new country with my husband and was pushed outside my comfort zone by Jabiz during the Re-Imagine Strand. Who could ask for anything more?

I didn’t want my Re-Imagine project to end at Learning 2, so I’ve been meaning to record it for awhile. Today I finally made the time to sit down and just do it. It got me excited all over again. I hope you’ll join me in shifting the role of tech coaches and technology instruction.

Join me to shift the narrative and explore technology through guided inquiry.

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Burning Questions Protocol

At Learning 2.014 in Africa this year I was a cohort facilitator of the Middle/High School Tech Leaders cohort with Sol. Leading up to the conference and during our first meeting it was our job to collect ‘burning questions’, desired takeaways or goals for the conference from our cohort members. During our second meeting 24 hours later, at about the half way point of the conference, our goal was to process together what we had learned and how we might use it in our situations – we were trying to answer our own questions based on the conference. Our fearless leader, Nick Kwan, suggested that we use a simple protocol similar to Final Word to facilitate our discussion.  As a recent convert to Critical Friends Groups and protocols, I was on board!

During our first meeting, Sol and I created a Google Doc for our cohort notes. We made a table in the document for our cohort’s ‘burning questions.’ We asked our cohort to then go into the document and vote for their top 3 ‘burning questions’ during the next 24 hours (or vote for it as an unconference session). At the next meeting we ‘discussed’ the 3 most popular questions. Sol and I took notes during the process so that everyone could listen instead of try to process all the information immediately. This process was probably the most worthwhile of the cohort time (and maybe conference!).

When I came back to school, I was telling our curriculum coordinator (and CFG coach) about the protocol. She was preparing for our staff PD day at the time and there was time built in for cohorts to process the information learned during the first 2.5 hours of the meetings. We decided to create a Burning Questions protocol based on my experience at Learning 2. It was a little different at our school but I thought it went well. Some takeaways:

  • We needed more space. We had all the cohorts in the auditorium. It was too much going on. In the future the cohorts should be split into different (smaller) areas.
  • It needs to be clear that the questions are conceptual or debatable. It also went better at Learning 2 when we had the questions compiled before the learning started.
  • We should have reiterated the purpose of the protocol.
  • We have done the Compass Points activity with our staff. It would have been worthwhile to remind them of how different people process and interact.

The protocol that Christina and I adapted is below. Feel free to contact either of us if you have questions!

#Learning2 – like no other

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A week ago I was exploring the poster sessions at Learning 2 in Addis Ababa and getting ready for our 2nd MS/HS Tech Leader/Coach cohort meeting. Now that I’m sitting in my office in Kuwait, my trip to Ethiopia seems surreal. Like most people, sometimes my day to day work-life gets boring, old and I forget why I’m doing this. Learning 2 helped me remember what I’m passionate about. Being around like-minded international educators with whom I could discuss burning questions and collaborate was inspiring, energizing and inspiring. Can’t everyday be a Learning 2 day?!

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I arrived early Wednesday morning from Kuwait with 30 hours to spare before the conference began (direct flights only happen a couple times a week). After navigating to my hotel, I headed to the International Community School to meet up with the Learning 2 Leaders. If I hadn’t been alone I might have been brave enough to explore the city but that will have to wait for another trip. My extra time in Addis allowed me to see the behind the scenes of being a L2 Leader…it’s not for the weak! But thus began my love affair with how this conference differed from others – all Leaders arrived 48 hours before the conference started to collaborate and ‘perfect’ their Extended Sessions and L2 Talks. The professional growth and collaboration that the Leaders are exposed to is quite impressive.

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The professional growth and collaboration that ALL participants are exposed to is impressive. From start to finish, this conference was like no other. My biggest takeaways weren’t necessarily what I learned from a speaker or presenter…but the people I met and the conversations I had. Going alone to a conference took me outside my comfort zone – I get my energy from being around people but I’m not the most outgoing in situations where I don’t know people. Fortunately, it felt like I knew people thanks to my PLN. Although I’d never met anyone in person before I was able to hug people when greeting them for the first time because it sure feels like I know them. Twitter and COETAIL have that power.

I originally planned on just attending the conference. For awhile I toyed around with also presenting a 1-hour workshop. In the end I ended up being a Cohort Facilitator. Luckily I didn’t present because I lost my voice on Wednesday and I’m still working to get it back to 100%! No one at Learning 2 knows what I actually sound like…just my gravely, sexy voice ;). The Cohort experience was by far my favorite. We were about 12 tech leaders/coaches from around the world who gather together and asked burning questions. And then we answered them. I would have been happy just sitting in a room all day with my cohort and solving world (education) problems.

I don’t really have many words for the conference. Just wow. Between my cohort, the L2 Talks, the extended sessions (my notes), the unconference discussions (our COETAIL meetup!), the food and the evening activities (read: drinks!) – it was just as epic as I thought it would be. ICS has a gorgeous campus (with tortoises!). It rained just enough to keep me happy but not too wet. The weather was nice and cool (quite a contrast from Kuwait!). The coffee smelled amazing.

Instead of more words from me, check out the #Learning2 InstagramTwitter feeds (they’ll start populating with #L2Asia soon!), the L2Africa Flickr page, the Facebook page, Doug Johnson’s pictures and Jeff Utecht’s latest post. [One picture exists to prove that I was actually there.] I probably tweeted more in the 4 days at Learning 2 than I have all year.

Learning 2 was an experience I’ll always keep with me. If I could, I’d attend every one for the rest of time. Learning2Asia is next weekend…and next year Learning2Europe and Learning2MiddleEast are set to start (keep an eye out for the applications)! Hopefully in the future I’ll even get to attend a Learning2Mars!

[If you want a more personal perspective on my time in Ethiopia, check out my other blog.]