Stephen Heppell Keynote at SuperConference

Live Blogged — so please forgive typos and awkward wording

Stephen Heppell at OLAIt took less time to get from Raleigh to Toronto than it took to get through the Toronto airport. I’m sure there’s a reason. Checked in to my room and now sitting in the InterContinental Ballroom for Stephen Heppell’s opening keynote address. I went up and introduced myself and then found a seat to wait. I’m going to have trouble understanding him with my hearing difficulties. So we’ll see. Aimee Mann and Talking Heads playing in the back ground. I’m home…

This is the 105th annual OLA Super Conference. That’s amazing — I guess. I just got back from Mississippi’s 25th technology conference.

Heppell asked a group of students what a literate teacher should be able to do, and they agreed that teacher should be able to:

  • upload to YouTube
  • edit a Wikipedia article
  • choose a safe online payments site
  • subscribe to a podcast and un subscribe
  • turn on and off preditive predictive text
  • manage a groups Flickr photos (and spell Flickr!)
  • look after a community in Facebook

He tells a story about a school in the Caribbean, where they were doing a teleconferencing event with other schools. It’s a wonderful island with parrots, white sand beaches, iguanas, bannana trees…. He asked the students what they’d like to show other schools about their island that others might not have seen. The kids said, “peace!”

Heppell is helping with inventing new schools in several countries and they are seeing huge leaps in performance among students by all measures.

Why do we group students together because they were born between two Septembers. Where is the research that says that grouping students born between two Septembers results in effective learning? think about it. Libraries are not age grouped. They’re open ended time, mixed ages, variety of groups, and project focused.

He shows a school where kids meet each week in the library to discuss what’s happened over the past week, researching, and working the topic. They video the conversations, and then post them to YouTube for parents to watch. Some schools block YouTube. Some schools use it.

He’s showing some videos from, including a school that gave students head-mounted video cameras, so that teachers could see their performance from the students’ point of view. Much debate came from that.

Robots are doing what people use to do. We need students who can design better robots.

In working with lots of film crews, he often learns that the camera man is profoundly dyslexic — and very expensive. Might there be valuing in helping people to become more dyslexic?

If you live for the next 25 years, you’ll likely live for 200 years. But our children will be so smart, they’ll keep us as pets.

Think about smart pills. We really need to be thinking about such things.

Heppell says we use to have “Now,” and “Not Now.” Now we have “Nearly Now.” You sat in class, and listened to me lecture. You in the now listening, or in the not now doing something else. Today, with text messaging, social networks, etc. there is the statement and then the wait for the response — but not too long. Nearly Now. Interesting.

Lots happening in the Caribbean. They have big banks, tourism, and they’re rebuilding all of their schools. In an entire day, a single student never comes in contact with more than 125. Why would you want them to see more than that? The pictures of these schools are incredible.

A student says, “What I want from education is the be noticed not only on the island, but to be noticed world wide.”

This had my jaw on the ground —

Where are we seeing the most innovative and exciting education. It’s in small places.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.