I’m writing this from my seat on the plane back to Oahu.
I’ll admit that I’m pretty tired from the last few days, but greatly inspired as well. DML 2012 San Francisco was the first full conference I’ve attended, although I presented a video game concept with some colleagues at AACE’s E-Learn 2011 in Honolulu a few months ago. To see the Prezi presentation of the video game prototype, click here.
San Francisco is a bit colder than Hawaii, despite there being “summer-like conditions” during our stay in early March. A high of 74 in the middle of the day had the locals excited. The low-40’s in the evenings had us shivering. Brrr.
My colleague Jon Kevan and I made the decision to attend DML 2012 in early February, originally trying to pull some other students from our program at UH with us. It ended up just being the pair of us flying out to San Francisco, which worked out great. We were able to meet up with another friend and UH Alum Stephanie Barry. The format of the conference was simple and welcoming, giving lots of options for talks and activities to take part in. Here are some highlights from the event:
The opening keynote by John Seely Brown started off the conference with a message about cultivating the entrepreneurial learner in today’s world. JSB’s experience in technology and academics was showcased with his talk, setting the tone for the conference. He spoke about, among other things, how the traditional model shows innovations on the edge influencing education at the “core,’ working from the outside in. He asked that advocates for educational technology embrace the innovations, moving the core outward towards these innovations. In a lighthearted but sincere way, he reminded educators that the technology to advance education is here, but that we must actively seek ways to put it to use. Makes sense. (Skip to 14:06 for JSB’s section)
Another message that stuck with me was from Jackie Gerstein, EdD. Her session on the final day of the conference was titled “Using Mobile Devices for Community and Team-Building in the Classroom”.
The session, as she explained before we began, was much less of a talking-head lecture and more of an interactive experience. After describing recent research supporting the use of mobile devices in K-12 and Higher Education, she broke up the attendees into groups to take part in the same exercises she uses in her classroom. Using such tools as Cel.ly and Flickr’s mobile image uploading, she took us through simple activities that can be used to improve student engagement and build a sense of community in the classroom. Sure enough, no ice was left unbroken during that session and many participants continued conversations into the main room when she was done. I’ll be showing some of those activities to my mentors back at UH, hopefully seeing them put to use by instructors in the College of Education.
2. Social Media
Before the conference, I had wondered what Twitter hashtags the attendees would be tweeting to during the talks. Little did I know that there would be flat-panel screens placed in the main meeting room and common areas, displaying a live feed of tweets to #DML2012. Twitter users made comments and had conversations during the talks, also extending the conversation to Twitter users outside the conference. It was intriguing to watch tweets flow down the screen, social media being used to start real conversations. On the second day, I spoke with a few attendees who sat in on different sessions on the first day. Having missed a couple of talks about a hot topic, I tweeted to #DML2012 and asked what discussion groups had been formed around the topic I missed. Within minutes I had a response from one of the official DML Twitter accounts, pointing me in the right direction. A prime example of how social media can be used in education to encourage discussion and make connections. Can we start seeing this more in classrooms, please?
As I mentioned earlier, there was a hot topic being discussed at DML that I largely missed out on during the first two days of the conference. Badges. What the heck are badges? Although the idea of badges is not new, this aspect of gamifiying education (yes, you read that correctly) has gained a lot of momentum over the last few months. A successful way that users have been encouraged to gain skills in games, achievement badges are making their way into education. Mozilla has even begun developing an open framework that organizations can use to develop their own badge system. The topic of badges has raised a lot of questions about the purpose and validity of endless badge systems, contrasted against the idea of one universal badge system. There’s a lot to know about badges, so for more information you can go to Mozilla’s OpenBadges.org information website.
The creative and collaborative spirit of this conference was infectious. My trip to San Francisco also involved a trip to the Prezi office, among other groups interested in Instructional Designers. Although the trip was only five days long, what seems like months of experience was fit in. I’m looking forward to DML2013 and seeking other educational technology conferences later on in the year.
By the way, I’ll be presenting my capstone project online at the TCC conference in next month. See TCChawaii.org for more info!
Also, for my little Flickr Album of the trip, click here.