Friday, October 16, 2009

ITEC 2009 - David Warlick

Presented twice at this year's ITEC conference, once on the digital curriculum and once on the state of e-learning in Iowa. More about those in another post, but the handouts from those can be found here.

Didn't get to as many workshops as I was hoping to, either. I found myself in many side conversations on the state of technology in Iowa, which actually was a much better thing than attending the sessions or presenting... nothing beats two-way conversation. It was good to visit with many of the people I see only in the Twitter-sphere, such as @AngelaMaiers, @karlhehr, @RussGoerend, @tdejager210, @jamiefath, @beckymather, @acrozier22, @mctownsley, @sethdenney, and @MikeSansone.

Seth, by the way, had the most apropos tweet from the conference.
That was the statement made by David Warlick, which even after hearing before twice, I came away from his keynote very impressed. Not just for the mantra-quality of the statement, which definitely rang true (lots less sessions about how tools work or that are labeled gadgets & gizmos this year). But more so for his way of making what we are working for--improved student learning, not student technology use--so simply put.

His best example of this was a lesson redefining of mathematics literacy. Students took live data from worldwide geological sites of the location of earthquakes. That data was then formatted into a spreadsheet and scatterplotted using Excel (poor ol', 1.0, much-bashed-at-ITEC-in-years-past Excel!).

The result is this.
Which, as Warlick noted, is basically a map of the world. The nature of data to visualize in this method is not only a valuable skill for students to learn, but also clarifies the concept of latitude and longitude in numeric sense, or in other words, literacy of the mathematical concept of coordinate geography. All done with a non-trendy tool to boot. This wasn't about the technology, it was about learning of an essential skill.

And on a tool note, for those who asked me about the presentation application Warlick and others used at ITEC, it is called Prezi, and there is a free online version you can use. Here is Warlick's from ITEC.

My personal opinion though (many of you will want to stop reading here), while I think Warlick did a really good job using the transitions to add to the meaning of his presentation, I do not like the tool. Distracting. Definitely not presentation zen. I know, I know... blasphemy... I'm the only one at ITEC who will say that, so peruse and make your own judgment.

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