Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thoughts from the #TEDxDenverEd Conference the other night

If you follow me on Twitter, you were probably a little annoyed by all of my tweets with the hashtag of #tedxdenvered. Sorry about that. Now that the TEDxDenverEd conference is done, I've had some time to sit back and reflect on the talks.

As an academic librarian at a medium sized private university, it was really interesting to see how teachers (particularly those with a technology bent, since many are here for the ISTE conference) are trying to figure out the best ways to reach K-12 students these days.

One of my favorite talks was from Brian Crosby. I really like the way he inspires his students to ask questions, particularly in scientific areas. The High Hopes Balloon project and launch videos were amazing. He also gets his students to write about and to think about things from different perspectives. More information is on his blog, Learning is Messy. Here are the links to his students' work.

I somewhat agree with Darren Wilson when he noted that "there was an obvious trend with a political and social agenda." Yes, that agenda was certainly there. But, I think teachers can more easily use topics such as environmentalism, green resources, or whatnot to get kids to be more active and involved in their education. The teacher should find out what the kids are truly interested in. If a kid is interested in making and selling widgets, then that motivation could be used as the basis for exploration into economics, business, ethics, and more. If a kid is interested in renewable energy resources, then the teacher could delve into energy exploration, land use studies, solar energy technology, and lots more.

What came first, the chicken or the egg? Are students interested in environmentalism or social justice topics because that is what they are worried about, or are the teachers simply doing a great job at getting the students interested in those "political and social agendas"?

I did hear the "library" word only once. (Maybe it was said more often, but I didn't hear it...) Either Pandora Thomas or Zakiya Harris mentioned the library in their talk. One of them said that students are simply not going to the library, nor are they using very many print books and newspapers, but, students do get their information from television and the Internet. Hummm, maybe their students are using library resources over the Internet, and they don't even know it?

It was also cool to have Adora Svitak be a surprise co-host for the night. (Here is her talk at the main TED conference way back in April.) She was on Channel 2's News Monday morning, so I had the feeling that she was going to be involved with the TEDx event here in Denver.

One of my new Twitter buddies noted that the videos will be posted to YouTube in the next couple of weeks.

The next set of Denver area TEDx Conferences are Boulder (August 7, 2010) and MileHigh (Spring of 2011).

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