Greetings from San Antonio and the WCET Annual Meeting!! Here are some highlights Thursday’s activities.
Keynote Speaker Jane Bozarth on social media toys for tools.
Self-proclaimed “world’s oldest millennial,” Jane Bozarth, helped us move beyond the social media hype to ways that these “toys” can be utilized as important tools for learning. Assuring us that these tools are not just for talking about what your cat had for breakfast, she gave practical examples on several social media tools:
- In addressing the “what your cat had for breakfast” objection that some have, she said that you should get past how others use the tool and find out how you can use it for learning.
- On Facebook, she said that 97% of the people on the planet had heard of this tool.
Farmville has more players than the population of France. If so many people are on Facebook, you should consider meeting them where they are…each login and password is a barrier to getting through to them.
- In chiding school administrators who wish to ban cell phones in the classroom, she quoted one administrator who saw the wisdom of allowing their use: “There are classroom computers you can make calls on…and parents are paying for them.”
- For Skype, she cited a class that had a video conversation with a survivor of the “Night of Broken Glass” in which Jews were rounded up in Nazi Germany. You can bring subject matter experts to the learning experience who would never travel to your site.
- Jane is a huge fan of Twitter (@JaneBozarth), claiming that “Google give me links, Twitter gives me answers.” But, it works only if you build relationships and develop meaningful contacts. It is an investment that pays off. She cited Ace Hardware as using it to share specialized expertise across a dispersed workforce in its stores throughout the country.
Jane finished with advice about the futility of trying to control the use of social media: “Your employees already have their own social media policy. If you’re lucky, they will tell you about it.” Jane has authored the book Social Media for Trainers.
A Lesson on All Things Texas
Darcy Hardy, Rob Robinson, and Michael Anderson (long-time friends of WCET) gave us all a few lessons on how to make the most of our time in Texas. Of the items they covered:
- Language: “Y’all” is a preferred pronoun and “All Y’all” is the plural perspective.”
- Regionalism: “Texas is neither southern nor western. Texas is Texas.” – Senator William Blakely
- Naming places: “Iraan” is a city that is not pronounced like the country. It was found by Ira and Ann, so it is pronounced like those two names put together (“Eye-ruh-ann”).
- Famous San Antonio landmarks: The house made of beer cans, Buc-ee’s “Big Ass Gas Station”, and San Antonio has the last remaining “Pig Stand” (the drive in restaurant that originated the idea of the “car hop”).
Bits of Wit and Wisdom
The hot ticket of the day was the chance to talk with Robbie Melton of the Tennessee Board of Regents and try out all of the newest gadgets at her table. A very astute observation from Tim Tirrell, “Conference attendees crowded around Robbie Melton all day oohing and ahhing about mobile apps….will they realize that is how they could/should be oohing and ahhing their students?”
“My “aha” moment today was at a poster session where I saw how I might resolve a strategic question at my institution. The session was offered by the University of Utah. One of the things I love about WCET is that you get great ideas and your colleagues are willing to share their success with you. And thanks to Donna and Qin for talking to me and helping me see the lightbulb glow above my head on a problem that has been keeping me awake at night.” – Deb Gearhart
On trends that come and go: “We’re all going to be tracking Second Life again, this time in the form of MOOCs.”
The federal negotiated rulemaking process for new regulations is much like Star Wars: There are lots of aliens and it always has a great bar scene.
The Department of Education does not embrace elearning. It may take a generation before people who are experienced in taking elearning courses fill those positions. The same is probably true of those in Congress, their staff, and many state leaders.
Wisdom from “the Twittah”
In case you’re not subscribed, we’re using the hashtag #WCET12 to track tweets from the Annual Meeting. Here are just a few from today: