I fought back and forth with myself about attending #flipcon12 virtually this week. I’ve never done a virtual conference before. What if my (generally poor) internet gives out, and I end up watching two days of “Buffering…” messages? What if the conference ends up not being what I wanted–or needed? What if I’m the only one watching? I had a hard time deciding if $100 was worth it on a gamble.
Then I came down with bronchitis.
Being to sick to work or go out means you will be subjected to days of the worst programming daytime TV has to offer. Even with my high fever (102.6!) and being fully medicated, I whipped the Visa out.
And I’m so glad I did. The conference was fantastic and far exceeded my expectations. The streaming video was just about flawless, and I hooked my laptop up to the flat-screen TV to watch it even bigger and louder. The sessions were excellent and the presenters definitely knew their stuff. All of the keynotes featured exceptional speakers and engaging presentations. And not only that, the sessions are archived until December, so not only can I go back and watch the presentations again, I can even watch the sessions I didn’t get to see! I had a great time Tweeting and learning with everyone and its pretty much a slam dunk that I will be participating virtually next year.
Whether or not I will be able to successfully implement flipped-classroom practices in my classroom next year remains to be seen.
First, the physical location of my classroom is very much still up in the air. I was expecting to be using a computer lab for my one class but I was assigned a regular room with just one student computer. I plan on asking for a hybrid room that has 8 computers, but who knows how that request will turn out. If I have identified any weaknesses in flipping, it seems to be access to technology at school, and this could be big.
Second, the tasks associated with flipping are no joke. I am not an experienced video editor and I prefer not to be on-camera anyway, but I understand the advantages of doing this now so I will be learning Video 101 myself this summer. Flipping your class seems to prompt a full review and overhaul of your lessons. I’m creating this whole course from scratch anyway, but that’s still got to be factored in.
And then there’s the time factor. I am only teaching one class every other day next year and will be keeping all of my regular duties as technology coordinator. How much time do I need to be spending going over the top on what is, bluntly, not my job?
The Flipped Conference helped me understand these questions but I know enough to know that there are no easy answers! Oh, and we start back on July 31, so time is slipping away! I will be thinking hard about these questions in the coming weeks.
Note: I wrote this whole post from my phone, so please forgive the occasional typo.
Last night’s #edchat topic was:
What makes a bad PowerPoint presentation and how it hurts learning. Is it the fault of tech or teacher?
There are a few things that concern me about the topic itself:
The pursuit of shiny objects: I had a feeling a topic like this would show up one day, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. The topic’s bias against PowerPoint (and, by extension, Microsoft) reveals what I consider to be a growing problem in educational technology. Why are we after the website of the moment? Will we now begin thrashing about every six months, trying to import our Prezis into this website that does all the same things, but in 3D? I made several Prezis this year to try it out and I was extremely disappointed. It took me much, much longer to put together a presentation(the path!), and in the end the information was about the same. I fail to understand the educational value of explaining to students the fine art of drawing a path in Prezi. And the students who use PowerPoint are just as excited about their work.
What’s our role here?: Are we as teachers really preparing students for the future by making them prepare Prezis? The current worldwide standard for presentations is Microsoft PowerPoint. I know it’s not trendy or cool to be a PowerPoint person, because everyone can do PowerPoint, but isn’t that exactly the point? I don’t know why we’re not focusing on exposing our students to the software that is the current global enterprise standard.
Content: Is it all about the content? Shouldn’t we be focusing on creating great presentations anyway? PowerPoint 2020 may not look the same as the 2012 edition, but I’d be willing to bet the underlying principles and ideas are the exact same. Look at Office 95. Very similar in basic design to today’s product.
“Is it the tech or the teacher?”: This implies that there’s a possibility that the technology is to blame for poor decisions by users. It’s also the oldest trick in the book: you don’t want to learn how to do it right so blame it on the technology. It’s PowerPoint’s fault the templates are worn out (even though you keep using them). Something is wrong with your laptop (you forgot your password). I see plenty of it, enough to know that really the tech is only as good as the person behind it, and is not autonomous or really to blame for decisons made on it.
Where I’m going with all of this is that I’m afraid there’s been an element of groupthink in the chats I participate online, and it worries me. Everybody jump on the Prezi bandwagon because that’s the new, hot presentation thing. Everybody jump on iPads in schools because that sounds awesome. Let’s bust out e-textbooks as fast as we can because e-everything is absolutely what we want 100% of the time, no holds barred. I would like to talk a little more about this, but it’s 12:20AM where I am, and I have to be up in six hours for a conference, so I know what I’ll be writing about tomorrow!
I have exactly 8 weeks off this summer. Instead of lounging around all summer, I have the following on my plate:
- Learning the new gradebook and attendance system so I can teach the teachers when we get back.
- Ditto with the new testing system.
- All-day planning meeting next week.
- Attend a local conference.
- (Maybe) attend a virtual conference.
- Read four books for the county office and write questions for students on them.
- Develop over 100 hours of content from scratch for the Mass Communications class I’ll be teaching.
- Read “Understanding by Design” and the workbook that comes with in.
- Oh, and read “The First Days of School” for good measure.
- Process incoming data from “the big test” so that others can use it easily (an ongoing task).
- And respond to the kind of problems that can’t wait until I return oh-so-soon at the end of July.
I’m not complaining. It’s nice to be busy. And I might pick up some shifts at the bookstore for good measure. I’ll be taking two entire weeks off to go visit my Mom, so I’ll end up with plenty of stress-free time. That said, I still owe my body plenty of sleep from the school year! And I’m trying to pick up the exercise/diet pace. The summer is going to fly by; I’ll be back at my desk before I know it!