Wednesday, February 23, 2011

ITSC Conference Reflections

I spent three days in Portland at the ITSC 2011 Conference. They built an app, which linked to a mobile-friendly website. I don't normally go to a conference where I am not presenting, but I was fascinated by the program. I enjoyed the following sessions/workshops:
  • Canby SDs iPod touch & iPad 1:1 Classroom Implementations - I plan to visit this district, where every 3rd grader in the district gets an iPod Touch. They have shown some dramatic increases in literacy and math scores of students in classrooms using these tools. Notable links: Main wiki on iPod use, Using iTunes as a Digital Portfolio. I was especially impressed with the story Joe Morelock told about how students post goals for the week with Corkulous - a cork board app ($4.99). A student creates a collection of cork boards, building small portfolio on device. Students set weekly goals in one color, show accomplishments in another color.
  • Rethink, Relearn: What it means to think, learn and design curriculum with Dr. Roger Schank. I attended this conference because he was one of the keynote speakers and I have his book, Tell me a Story. I enjoyed the opportunity to work with Jackie Gerstein and another educator from Oregon, where we explored a lot of ideas around how students can find their purpose and passions. We entitled our GoogleDoc, "Everyone has a story" and we compiled a lot of resources on daily reflection, goal setting and how do we help students find their “spark?” A spark is something that gives your life meaning and purpose. It's an interest, a passion, or a gift. What do you bring to the world that is good, beautiful, and useful?  It was a very exciting morning.
  • This looks interesting with Alec Couros and Dean Shareski - Lots of new apps and websites:, Instapaper,,,,,
  • Beyond Search with Lucy Gray - Learned lots of new ways to search Google. I especially liked which is powered by Yolink. Google Search LessonsLucy's slides in Slideshare
  • Mobile Learning in Your School with Ira David Socol (he helped his son create This was a good opportunity to learn from other educators about why and how to use mobile phones in education: let students choose their own device (SODs -- Student-Owned Devices). Start with calendar, use mobile organization of the day. I learned how to email reminders from Google Calendar. Other links we explored:, We explored Dragon & Vlingo (voice to text) which doesn't work well with children's voices. He talked about MITS Freedom Stick (4 GB flash-based Freedom Drive-- some use MP3 player) which contains mobile versions of Windows open source software. Build mobile websites:, Use mobile devices to make sense of things - map where you are, upload to Flickr - Flickr on your Mobile (How to Access Flickr Through Your Cell Phone) Read more: How to Access Flickr Through Your Cell Phone |
    It is all about power for unempowered people.
  • Closing Keynote: Cognitive Processes that Underlie Learning with Roger Schank. I intend to get his book when it comes out next fall: Learning 2.0 from Teachers College Press. I took voluminous notes in Evernote. Some of the key ideas:
    • We learn from experience - which experiences affect memory? (memory is dynamic)
    • Case-based reasoning - how it relates to me
    • Learning is the abandonment of old scripts
      change by experience - what makes experience memorable: emotional reactions, satisfaction goals, surprises, deep involvement in developing a solution, catastrophic failure.
    • Education must be defined as guided practice (death of "you will need it later")
    • Education must be about helping students achieve truly held long term goals [reinforcing the need for student goal-setting]
    • Education should be designed in order to match student goals with societal needs - start with a well-defined goal (one that the student wants to achieve)
    • Education must focus on the non-conscious mind. If you have a motivated learner, you can teach then anything.
    • Education should enable the satisfaction of curiosity
    • Many ideas on how to change teaching: art of teaching is art of assisted discovery
    • John Adams' purpose of education: learn how to live and how to make a living... and it should be fun!
    • Provide an education allowing students real choices. The real goal should be getting students to think for themselves.
    • Curriculum should be organized around Cognitive Processes: modeling (constructing a model of the world), judgment, prediction, causation, diagnosis, evaluation, experimentation, negotiation, describing, influencing, teamwork, planning.
    He make me think deeply, and reinforced my passion for storytelling in learning. The research-based concepts he raised would revolutionize education, if he could get leaders to listen to his ideas. His Story-Centered Curriculum article provides a glimpse of what is possible; also his White Paper (PDF). His keynote was a great ending to the conference.
I am really glad I came to this conference. There were a lot of sessions on GoogleApps that I did not attend, and I had to make a lot of choice about which sessions I should attend, but I think I chose what I needed at this time. I have new ideas to integrate into my upcoming presentations next week. I also took the opportunity to visit a teacher in Portland, who is doing exciting work using Evernote for student portfolios in grades 3-5, but I will save that reflection for a future post, especially if I decide to go back to Oregon to visit Canby School District classes.


Dean Shareski said...

Helen, I thought that was you in our session but since I didn't see you presenting, figured it was someone else. I would have loved to talk eportfolios with you. If you're interested, here's a start to our project.

Dr. Helen Barrett said...

Thanks for the link. Let's Skype after next week (I'm back to Portland to present at NCCE). I am very interested in your project.

Alec Couros said...

I've wanted to meet you for years, and didn't realize (until after Dean told me) that it was you in our session. Great to kind of meet you. :-)

Take care.