Creativity abounds with SXSWedu 2014

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Who would like to buy me tickets to SXSWedu in Austin? Going once, twice, three —

SXSW looks like an amazing festival, held every spring featuring film, interactive, music and conferences with panels of speakers, workshops, Meetup events and a trade show. There is also SXSWedu, an expo for educational innovation, SXSWeco for those environmental conservationists and SXSW V2V for techie startups on the prowl.

This year’s conference has a few discussions I’m interested in:

Permission Engines: Facilitating Creativity (SXSWinteractive)
What do Googlers and Burning Man have in common? Find out here (hint: it’s in the title)

STEM Challenges for Digital Citizens
Amazed by Amplify, I’d definitely drop in.

Apple for Teacher: Education Ripe for Disruption
This interview may make you redefine the status quo.
Just think of the opportunities we can unlock by making education as addictive as a video game.

iStories: Teaching with Social Video Self-Modeling
Learn how to demonstrate a concept, create step-by-step instructions and showcase prompt as a student video with social stories.

Rethinking Teaching and Learning: Competency-based
Every discussion poses questions; some pertinent like these.
What system changes must be made for students to have coherent and goal focused educational experiences?

Interactive Chocolate
Because everyone loves chocolate.

Tickets may be a stretch and I’ll try to make it there at least in spirit. Until then I’ll seek out PanelPicker to vote for the content I want to see (whether as a virtual attendee or a real one).

School Spotlight: Inglewood Unified School District, Inglewood, California

This series will highlight school districts that are empowering youngsters to embrace technology. Perhaps your school is bringing GAFE to the classroom, rolling out tablets, using Lynda.com or Khan Academy to introduce video supplements or you are just a Nerdy Teacher using Evernote as an experiment to engage students in a new way.

Inglewood Unified School District is southwest of downtown Los Angeles, California with a population of 100,000+ students amongst its twenty-six schools.  In 2008, the district launched Game Smart Design Academy (with Think Now Education, a community-oriented business dedicated to bringing creative after school programs to SoCal) for grades 6-8 encouraging students to write, create and publish video games. This program motivates students to learn about game design, animation, critical thinking and problem solving, storyboarding, collaboration and constructive criticism all while following a STEM-enriched curriculum.

In 2011 Inglewood created Newshounds Journalism Club, a project based, common core aligned language arts program teaching students the fundamentals of blogging. Those interested use this medium to express themselves, develop a voice, and inspire others to do the same through text, video or still images published online. Students work in teams to address a theme; brainstorm ideas, conduct research and interviews, and gather multimedia resources to create a succinct blog post. The Club’s live product is available online and in school libraries.

You may ask what significance do these programs have? Who cares about these buzzwords being thrown around: STEM, Common Core, Digital storytelling, and the various Learning types (blended learning, mobile learning, project based learning, competency based learning, etc.)?

In my opinion, the Newshounds Journalism Club is an innovative after school program that inspires youth to explore the written word and hone in on their audience, voice and style. (aka great free write exercise on the tablet) What better way to do this than sharing instantly with each other? I also see how students can understand the production process to complete a project. For instance, one can learn how to create and refine content and present stories in iterations; all things that journalists, software developers and video game designers do on a daily basis. With school programs like these, students are given the skills that can be used in future endeavors.

This week’s cleaning house, the EdTech rattlers

Competency-based degrees, MOOCs and EdTech Innovators

Towson University launches its business incubator, TowsonGlobal, responsible for connecting EdTech companies and entrepreneurs.

Boston becomes the MOOC capital of the Northeast with the recent announcement of BostonX, a joint partnership with EdX offering free online courses.

President Obama commends my alma mater, Southern New Hampshire University on affordable solutions to competency-based degrees. View video here.

Pearson expands blended/online learning with Howard University. Students can now choose up to 25 online degrees with this flagship program.

Cengage Learning pre-negotiates bankruptcy.

NoRedInk, the online grammar tool is $2 million strong. Don’t fear the red pen!

My first Meetup event

I spent this evening at my first networking event for EdTech in Boston. Organized by LearnLaunchX, I joined maybe forty guests in a hot, no AC room on the sixth floor of the PayPal offices on Oliver Street, walking distance to the aquarium.

We mingled, we exchanged business cards, we awkwardly looked at each other wondering who would crack the ice first, and we all probably had wished it went on for a few more hours… After our initial meet & greet session, we broke into groups to discuss topics that we previously chose on mobile, adaptive learning, MOOCs, flipped classrooms and ‘others.’

In the alotted time, there was only an opportunity to meet twice in small groups. For my first discussion on adaptive learning, we defined this method of using technology to adapt to different learning techniques, and shared ideas how to blend adaptive approaches and individualized learning. Everyone who contributed brought their own unique background and knowledge into the conversation.

The second discussion I sat in on was about MOOCs, or massive open online courses. We identified ways they are disrupting traditional pedagogical approaches — no more brick and mortars. (We now have face-to-computer interaction with virtual teachers.) Conversly, MOOCs are furthering our idea of a competency-based curriculum and everyone agreed with my point, MOOCs can become influential in the K12 market if used as a supplemental learning device. And we also talked briefly about the number of class enrollees verses those that actually completed the course. To no surprise, the number of enrollees far surpasses the latter.

What I learned about my first event: Butt in, but be polite, don’t drink the beer unless you want a bad breath (no I did not indulge, I needed to be an observant pedestrian taking public transportation back home) and print those business cards. I walked away with a small pile of business cards and if you can make at least one really good connection, you are all set.

Oh, did I mention the beer? There was Coors Light and some other generic brew. Now that’s where my entry fee went…

UPDATE: FB photos from the event

Degree or not degree?

I’m nearing that age when you start to wonder what should I do with the rest of my life? The quarter life crisis. In a quest to find the right graduate school, this is what I’ve learned:

Apply to colleges with large endowments. Harvard really has a large petty cash fund.

Look at free unconventional learning models. Degreed helps you find free learning tools based on subject; this is where I found MIT’s The Creative Spark course.

Don’t be fooled by a graduate certificate program.

Teach for America, still healthy and strong, defers your student loans. The founder, Wendy Kopp recently spoke at BU’s 2013 commencement.

SNHU’s College for America acknowledges the workforce crisis and offers a competency-based, self-paced AA degree, the first nationally accredited program of its kind.