I had an incredible day yesterday. It started with entering the lobby to check out of a hotel that I had only spent about six hours in, and running into Connie Radtke, the program leader for the conference. She convinced me that there was time for breakfast before heading over to the conference, and I had a wonderfully enlightening conversation with Connie and two of her associates, over Wisconsin-style scrambled eggs.
It’s my age and being set in my ways, but the romantic in me resists distance learning. Because of that, I keep forgetting how much I learn at distance learning conferences. These people are teaching in and from the new information landscape. As they were talking about their services and the varied reasons why students seek out distance/online learning opportunities, it occurred to me that if my son’s school system had offered distance learning versions of some of their standard and AP classes, he could have take independent of school schedules, he might have had time at school to take more music classes. As it was, he was extremely limited in the courses he could take, for which he had a true passion, because of all the other stuff that had to be SCHEDULED in. To be fair, I could have sought out other opportunities, but I was too limited by my on notions of teaching, learning, and schooling.
One idea that struck me was when my breakfast chums repeated a statistic that Susan Patrick shared during her keynote address the day before, that 80% of students who enter distance learning opportunities were passing their classes before. I have much to process.
Another treat for the day was running into John Pederson. He introduced himself to me as I was preparing for my first presentation on wikis, blogs, and podcasting. Unfortunately, I did not make the connection, even when I noticed that he was playing World of Warcraft while I was reasoning with the LCD projector. However, while I was setting up for the keynote, the connection played through in my head and I dashed over with my iPod and iTalk for a conversation with John and some of his friends. It should appear on Connect Learning today or tomorrow!
Once again, distance learning conferences are where digital immigrants go to talk like digital natives. I learn so much, and hopefully give them so new contexts in literacy around which to continue wrapping their knowledge and experience.
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