Tag Archives: ed_tech

Introducing Audrey Watters

Audrey Watters holding shark jaw

Last week at NWeLearn’s 10th Anniversary conference, I had the great opportunity and privilege of introducing one of my ed tech heroes, Audrey Watters.  It was not only a big deal for me that Audrey was won of our keynotes, but it represented a milestone and celebration of what this little conference has grown into and how it is leading the pack in some ways.

Seeinging the tide of STEM &  Ed Tech conferences filled with all-male panels of experts and all-male line ups of keynotes (noticeable to the extent it generated a meme of its own), I threw down the challenge via tweet:

The NWeLearn nation answered the challenge in a big way – Audrey as one keynote, and so many top lady thinkers presenting sessions that we suddenly found ourselves in the majority. You rocked it, NWeLearn!

Here’s Audrey’s introduction (co-authored with my buddies Alysonn Indrunas and Maria Erb):

Good morning.  Are you having a good time? Enjoying the sessions?

When we talk about who influences us in our careers, especially in EdTech, it’s easy to come up with a host of names, but for the women in the room, there is perhaps no stronger influence right now than Audrey Watters.  And that may be true for men, as well.

Audrey often gives voice to the things we cannot say in our daily work lives while she critiques institutions and philosophies around the intersection of education and technology. As someone who claims to be a serial dropout, we’d like to give her an honorary degree in Feminist Radness. And men, if you feel excluded, allow me to remind you that feminism is for everyone.

On that note, NWeLearn has achieved a milestone. This year we have 26 presentations by women, 18 by men, and 9 presentations with shared duties. Wow NWeLearn! Way to represent!

According to Audrey, “To “hack education” isn’t something that just technologists should do or care about. Nor only is this a concern for teachers, administrators, parents, or students. We all should consider the implications of technology on how we teach and learn, lest the future of ed-tech be just like the history of ed-tech: learners as pigeons.”

Learners everywhere have a true champion in Audrey, watching their backs and taking shots at corporate bullies in disguise. She is onto them.

In her spare time, she reads, rabble-rouses, and prepares for the zombie apocalypse “because you never know”…And if you want to buy her a beer, try to make it a Green Flash West Coast IPA.

Please join me in welcome Audrey Watters!

The other thing tha happened this year? The Tweeters came out in force – sharing thoughts and resources from both keynoters (Jesse Stommel took the keynote reigns on the second day). The hashtag #nwelearn lit up by attendees and those following along from beyond the conference.

You can read all the tweets by checking out the conference Storify feed.

I hope you’ll join us next year at NWeLearn 2016 – somewhere in Oregon!

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Don Quixote 1 Windmills 0

Some days, working in ed tech can feel defeating. (Can I have an amen?)

Don Quixote - Tilting at windmillsYou feel a bit like technology’s version of Don Quixote – valiantly fighting against the monsters of poor course design and disengagement that apparently no one else can see. And, of course, you’re dragging poor Sancho Panza, your instructional designer, along on your crazed quest. (You can almost feel them whisper about your insane strategic plans as they just look at you like you’ve grown a second or third head in that staff meeting during your presentation, right?)

And then there are those times they’ve begged and begged for training, so you plan all sorts of wonderful interactive sessions to engage your audience in the wonderful world of instructional technology, and you get this kind of crowd:

empty audience

So why do we do it? What’s the pay off?

Because every once in a while, something sticks. Every once in a while, you accidentally, or on purpose, stumble across the right phrasing, the right serendipitous moment, the 2+2=4 thing, and the light bulb goes on, and progress inches forward. And it feels amazing.

It happened this week for me working with one faculty member helping her to better understand how to use her face-to-face versus online time in her hybrid evening class. She’d been struggling to fit all her content in, when she’d never struggled teaching it traditionally.

We talked about the fact that it was a 5 credit class – traditionally that would mean 5 contact hours + an additional 5-10 hours of homework.

Then I explained how in a hybrid class we need to think not in terms of contact hours, but in learning activity hours. So in her case, she would have 2 learning activity hours face-to-face with the students and 3 learning activity hours online with them, and then the students still had 5-10 hours of homework. Sancho added tips for building the activities to interweave them between the online and face-to-face modalities.

Wham! I could almost see the wheels turning in her mind as she realized that the online portion of her class wasn’t idea light bulbsupposed to be the homework – that homework was in addition. And her students would come prepared to class if she created assignments this way.  She was suddenly freed to add more in, and assign the homework she’d been feeling guilty about. We’d found the way to explain the concept that clicked for her this time. She was excited to review her class with this new lens to see it through. It was a real win.

Maybe this will work with some other faculty.

Maybe they’ll show up.

Don Quixote 1  Windmills 0

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