Most educators seem to want to limit the use of electronic devices in their classrooms - no cell phones, no laptops, no iPods. The folks at Educon 2.2 think social networking in schools enhances motivation and learning. They have their students texting each other during their classes while the teacher is talking.
They model this behavior at the Educon conference by using Twitter to talk to each other during presentations (left). In a keynote or panel presentation everyone has their laptops open and are making running comments in real time. The audience comments, both at the conference and on-line around the world, are part of the presentation. Presenters shape their presentations based on instant questions and responses flowing on their screens.
The hall was so full that some people used their computers to watch live streaming video of the presentations at the front of the room with earplugs to better hear the presenters (near left). Others, like Will Richardson, (right) turned their computers around to point the camera at the presenter to capture video of the presentation as a way of notetaking.
The "con" in Educon stands for conference but also for conversation because the three-day event is designed to be a conversation among educators. The idea is that real learning takes place when students and teachers are actively engaged in dialogue via electronic devices. Texting, instant messaging, Internet searching, moodling, and twittering are all encouraged in these classrooms.
Educon is an annual conference held at the Science Leadership Academy (SLA), a high school in Philadelphia, run by the principal Chris Lehmann with lots of help from teachers, students, and parents. Chris says that they don't tell students to shut off their cell phones, computers and pagers when they enter the school because they will need them to learn from each other and from other students around the world.
Click on the heading above to go to the Educon 2.2 website.