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Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Intersection Event Takeaways

I served on a panel that discussed education at the event.
Through a personal connection, and in relation to my current work with tech integration, I was invited to present as a panelist at The Intersection Event.

The Gratitude Network sponsored my trip and welcomed me with open arms and tremendous support throughout the event.  I was happy that an education conference at this scale included the voice of educators as panelists and attendees.

In the following paragraphs, I have captured many snippets from the event's varied program.  As a learner, I was thrust into a culture far different from the small education community where I work. Hence I was met with Silicon Valley speak (scaling, venture, trends. . .),  the fast intersections of ideas and action, and many, many new people and possibilities.  The snapshots of the event provide you with a glimpse of the many ideas, actions and questions shared related to education on a national and global scale.

While there is lots of discussion about private vs. public education ventures, it was clear at this conference that multiple innovators in the private sector are moving ahead with a wide range of educational tools and ideas. As educators we can stand up to prevent that movement, or we can look for ways to integrate private and public education initiatives to best support our children.  In my opinion, the United States has to safeguard the ideal and practice to teach every child well, yet public education also has to open its doors to the many, wonderful innovations that exist.  I believe the best interests of our country is the continued intersection of public and private ideas, innovation and action with regard to education with a strong value and commitment to providing conditions of excellence, and respect for humanity, at all levels of the work.

There were many take aways from The Intersection Event speakers' meeting at Googleplex on Friday and the event itself on Saturday. Friday, the speakers met in a conference room at Googleplex for a day to share ideas, tour the Google campus, and view Google's latest inventions: Project Glass and the driverless car. It was amazing to sit in a room with so many well educated, accomplished individuals who are making great impact on society.  I will bring their stories and accomplishments back to my students in the hopes of inspiring students' sense of mission, passion, recreation and learning.

On Saturday about 400-500 people gathered in Google's presentation space to listen to a number of panelists discuss issues ranging from investment and entrepreneurship to education and innovation.  The attendees represented students, educators, investors, entrepreneurs, corporate administrators, engineers, designers and more.  People were very friendly and engaging sharing ideas and stories throughout the day.

During the two days, the presenters shared a wide range of topics, questions, and technology. There were more points and details than I could possibly capture in a post, but with regard to my work as an educator, these were the main take aways for me.

STEAM Lab Ideas
I was able to share this idea and receive feedback during the speakers' meeting.
  • Consider Learning Commons work
  • Start with inspired teachers and collaborative planning, a "ground up" process that includes all potential aspects of the project such as vertical gardens, outdoor explore spaces and more. 
  • Consider process and vision, then plan and implement.
Collaborative Work
  • Utilize "cognitive diversity" (five people plus/minus two) to make decisions. 
  • Look for ways to move from success to significance.
  • To create change, it can be advantageous to partner with others.
  • Dynamic conversation is important to the success of an organization
  • "Do well by doing good."
  • Taking small steps can drive down the cost of risk, yet Google focuses their work on big problems, audacious thinking, transformative change and making the world better. 
  • Success doesn't come without failure.
  • Decision makers and innovators are thinking and creating on a global scale.
  • Technology is everywhere and some of the big areas of focus include electric vehicles, synthetic biology, solar energy, water tech, lower cost satellites/earth data collection and robotics. 
  • We need to consider the emotional components of education.
  • Technology is accelerating the rich/poor gap.  We're an information economy, and those who don't have the education/tech knowledge or skill may be left behind.
  • Google created Glass to make tech more readily available and responsive to a need.
  • Google designs with the focus on minimal, beautiful and light. 
  • Continue to build blended learning environments in school that make room for focused data-driven work as well as randomness and serendipitous learning. 
Moving Ideas Forward
  • Use humor to relay messages when possible and plausible.
  • Partner with supporters.
  • Google has money to give to non profit groups with transformative ideas that can scale and demonstrate data related to impact. 
  • There are big differences between high performing teams and low performing teams.  New technologies are being developed to collect data on emotional engagement.
  • Network.
Priorities Evident Throughout the Conference
  • Family
  • Social Change
  • Financial Gain
  • Respect for Humanity
  • Inspiring natural and architectural spaces.
  • Google's Mountain View Headquarters is an incredible creativity-driven environment with wide open work spaces, napping pods, game tables, open food and snack bars, art, bikes and so much more.  Google has created a community with many services for their employees making it a positive place to work. 
Presentation Day Highlights:
The day was long and busy so I created a storify of some of the essential notes I took on Twitter as I listened to the panelists present.  Other highlights of the presentation day included the following:
  • Many organizations are focusing on women and girls as a way of impacting future generations. Service learning communities as well as individuals can help to support this through online charity work with organizations like The World We Want, an organization that won an award at the event.  
  • Technology is changing lives for the better around the Globe in many diverse ways including small business creation, loan access, medical care, banking opportunities, education and more.
  • Panelists, when discussing tech innovation and networking, recommended that we "do things that matter, solve problems and make a difference--creating value for self and in the ecosystem."
  • There was a lot of discussion about disruptive innovation leading to change.
  • One question that came up in discussion was, "Whose values are driving the system?"
  • Also people were considering the effects of data with regard to our actions wondering if we are measuring what's most important.
  • Stephanie Houston, a designer from Design Blitz and I discussed her company's mission "to make the personality and culture of an organization physically visible."     
  • I was also introduced to an innovative social skills program that I think would make our Open Circle training more tangible and life-long. The program was called Toolkit.     

Final Takeaways:
One of the 20under 20 student attendees
 trying out a Google bike. 
I'm sure I will continue to bring ideas and experiences to mind from this amazing event, but for now here are a few more notes:
  • The students representing 20under20 were amazing, and I want the business teacher and students at our high school to be aware of that foundation and those opportunities 
  • Edmodo is a well supported social network for students--a network we've tried, and that I'll try again given the fact that it has the backing of many which means that it will probably continue to grow and change. (I'd like to see Edmodo become more like NING).
  • PLNs (personal learning communities), intersecting and networking are powerful ways that people learn in our global, information-tech society.
  • A good education matters.  While people debate education paths for American students, it was clear to me that most of the presenters and innovators at this conference went to what are considered the best schools in the country.
  • We must begin to employ tech tools into curriculum where we know those tools can make a significant difference, areas such as ELL, Special Education, math skills, multimedia composition, foreign language learning and more. 
Three educators in my PLN, Dan Callahan, Kim Sivick and Steve Hargadon, also attended the event, and it was good to have the chance to discuss the many ideas and innovations presented with them throughout the days. 

Please don't hesitate to contact me with fact corrections, important links, further information or questions.  As you can see it was an eye-opening, growth producing event for me that gave me many new ideas and perspectives to integrate into the work I do as an educator each day.

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