uLearn16 Preparation

Before uLearn15 I took some time to synthesise lots of information about the conference and found it quite helpful for developing some more prior knowledge in order to get more out of the conference. This is just a post to process some of the prior information about the keynotes and key threads to get me in the zone. I’m doing this in a self-beneficial way but something might be interesting here – the preparation for ulearn16 post that Anne Kenneally put together is a much better general audience resource.

Key Themes

  • Connect: Sharing knowledge and ideas
  • Collaborate: Working together and developing relationships
  • Innovate: Innovation and sustainability

Conference Strands

In the lead up to the conference I found reading Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching: A New Zealand perspective extremely insightful. It contextualises the shifting paradigms of education and sets forth emerging principles to guide our thinking. It reinforces these three themes and is full of fascinating thinking around contemporary education issues.

Keynote #1: Larry Rosenstock

‘It’s Time to Change the Subject’

Larry Rosenstock is the founder and CEO of High Tech High, a network of public charter schools focused on project-based learning.

Something that really struck me is the comment that teachers are measured by the work that their students work. The HTH website is full of this as well. Student work represents the philosophy, not pages of justification for the controversial model. I want to know more about being a teacher in this environment, what that might look like.

And in this TED talk Larry talks about  paradox therapy – design principles of personalisation, real-world connection, and common intellectual mission:

Schools are based on mis-predictions on who can do and can’t do. Dualities structure schools: who you let in or who you don’t let in; personalisation or individualised; who is listening the students or the teachers. Break down the dualities!

Keynote #2: John Couch

‘New Dimensions in Learning’

A bit of Apple to spice things up:

John leads the Education business at Apple – his more than 40 years as a computer scientist and his advocacy for the use of technology in education has revolutionised learning in the classroom. At Apple, our dedication to learning has always been a part of our DNA.

He took part in an interesting discussion here:

He speaks about a education ecosystem that allows the students to be creative. That sounds superb, but then offers little new about how a school should look. His comments on analytics are interesting, but that’s an interesting alternative to Rosenstock’s project based environments. I’m hoping his uLearn keynote will have some interesting anecdotes. Regardless, I’m happy to start using the word ecosystem for education from now on.

Keynote #4: Michael Fullan

‘Early lessons from implementing New Pedagogies for Deep Learning’

Our work on School Leadership, Professional Capital and Coherence is becoming deeply integrated and embedded in the clusters and networks of schools that are engaged in implementing ‘new pedagogies’. I will identify some early lessons concerning how leadership for deep learning differs when it comes to digitally accelerated innovations. There are also some surprising new findings about the role of students as change agents relative to pedagogy, school organisation, and even societal change.

Fullan holds an epic CV and its very exciting to be only a couple of days away from seeing him in action. There are some really nice themes that emerge from his website: a focus on humanity and learning, cluster-based collaboration, and of course his big selling point: guidance around leadership.

Googling Fullan reveals a well known book – “Six Secrets of Change” that seems to be considered a bible for leadership – briefly explained in the above video – and listed here:

  1. Love your employees
  2. Connect peers with purpose
  3. Capacity building prevails
  4. Learning is the work
  5. Transparency rules
  6. Systems learn

Keynote #4: Karen Spencer

‘Beyond the echo chamber: The extraordinary possibilities of a networked profession’

Karen will take you on a provocative journey to explore the rapid rise in innovative professional learning. From ‘done to’ staff meetings to collaborative, agile investigations into what’s happening for our learners, the way educators improve and grow has evolved rapidly in recent years. She’ll explore new insights into professional learning, best ways to embrace change, and invite you to think about how we can transform what we do for our learner.

I’ve always enjoyed Karen‘s blogposts and her thinking around education. I last saw her present a Core breakfast last year on future focused learning design which was provocative. Looking forward to her closing things off.


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