Ed Tech Start Ups Convene in Arizona

phoenician

Reposted from the New York Times:

The annual ASU+GSV Summit conference here, an effort put on by Arizona State University and GSV Capital, an investment firm, started six years ago as a modest event in the desert where investors came to hear company presentations from about 50 education start-ups. The conference has since become the central event for investors and companies scouting for the next big thing in education technology — a melting pot for executives from McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson, Google and Microsoft, Kapor Capital and the NewSchools Venture Fund, and start-up entrepreneurs.

This year about 270 companies are presenting, all represented by either their chief executives or founders. Among them are companies like Degreed, which developed in an ed tech accelerator financed by Kaplan, the test-preparation company. Degreed has attracted angel investors including Mark Cuban, the investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and Deborah Quazzo, a managing partner at GSV Advisors.

“It’s a place where it’s all senior people,” said Ms. Quazzo, one of the conference organizers. “So conversations can occur at a high level.”

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4 Visionary Conference Mindsets

conferencegoer

Reposted from Velvet Chainsaw:

Vision…it’s easy to talk about. It’s hard to create and implement. And it’s often even harder to upgrade. What’s your vision for the 21st Century conference? How are conferences evolving? As the new year starts, there’s no time like the present to think about creating a fresh vision and adopting a new frame of mind for your next conference.

The world continues to evolve at a rapid and accelerated pace. Conferences are in a unique position to evolve to reflect societal changes or become prehistoric monuments of the past. The best visionary conference organizers fuel innovations inside great meetings. These visionary leaders have moved beyond operational effectiveness. They are using new tools and new points of view to meet their attendees’ needs.

When a conference organizer combines their team’s energy, vision and intelligence with the right 21st Century conference organizer mindset and tools, they can create remarkably powerful forces. Here are four visionary leadership mindsets today’s conference organizers should foster and implement…

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Student-Led Parent-Teacher Conferences

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Reposted from Edudemic:

Parent-teacher conferences provide parents with updates on their child’s progress and opportunities to see their student’s work. They also open communication between school and home. However, students often are passive, or even absent, during traditional parent-teacher conferences. One way to fix this is to put students at the helm, as they are the ones who are responsible for their work and progress. Here, we detail a few ways to hold effective student-led conferences and we offer a guide for each conference participant.

In the student-led conference format, students and teachers prepare together, and then students lead the conference while teachers facilitate. “The triad then sits together to review and discuss the work and the student’s progress. The message, once again, is that the students are responsible for their own success.” Student-led conference models vary, but the premise is the same: “This is the student’s moment to share his or her reflections on achievements and challenges.”

According to Gus Goodwin, a teacher featured in the book, “Deeper Learning: How Eight Innovative Public Schools Are Transforming Education in the Twenty-First Century” (which in turn was quoted in this excellent MindShift article) is quoted as saying that parents appreciate student-led conferences as an alternative because they realize report cards are not useful, “and over time, the parents begin to set a higher bar for their students at these conferences.”

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Celebrating Failure A Success

failcon

Reposted from the New York Times:

Five years ago, Cassandra Phillipps founded FailCon, a one-day conference in San Francisco celebrating failure. Discouraged by a growing chorus of start-up founders promoting their triumphs throughout Silicon Valley, and nervous about her own prospects as an entrepreneur, she craved the stories of people who had flopped. The conference was a success. And every October for the next four years, up to 500 tech start-up newbies have gathered with industry veterans who dish on their “biggest fail” and lead round-table discussions with titles like “How to Conduct Yourself When It All Goes Off the Rails.” But this year, the FailCon event in San Francisco was canceled, and Ms. Phillipps says part of the reason is that failure chatter is now so pervasive in Silicon Valley that a conference almost seems superfluous. “It’s in the lexicon that you’re going to fail,” she says.

In her five years running FailCon as a side project while holding down other full-time jobs, Ms. Phillipps gathered a fair amount of entrepreneurial wisdom. In her current job as a game designer for the mobile gaming company Pocket Gems, she says she always assumes that new products her group creates will hit the skids in several ways. They will discover a problematic employee in the mix, for example, or the products will garner some negative user reviews. “There has never been a product launched that didn’t have those failures,” she says. Ms. Phillipps and her team pre-emptively draft plans for how to handle these and other problems. They brainstorm specific solutions and set up warning systems to clue them in to the fact that a fiasco has occurred in the first place.

In some ways, FailCon’s success created a quandary for Ms. Phillipps. The last three conferences sold out, each drawing 400 to 500 people who paid $100 to $350 each. And FailCon attracted big-name sponsors, including Amazon Web Services, Comcast and Microsoft. She says the conference was financially profitable. Now, she says that Silicon Valley’s embrace of failure has outgrown the FailCon format — and that a one-day conference no longer seems to be the best fit. So she is aiming to reboot FailCon. She may turn to smaller, more interactive workshops and an invitation-only application process. FailCon 2.0 is to make its debut in October 2015.

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Looking Forward to L2L

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Once again ASCD leaders from around the world are traveling to the Leader to Leader conference to be held this weekend. Leader to Leader (L2L) is our annual professional development event for those dedicated education professionals who serve in important leadership roles for ASCD Affiliates, Connected Communities, Professional Interest Communities, Student Chapters, and our Emerging Leaders program. Over the five years I have been associated with L2L, it has evolved to be a much more collaborative event with lots of opportunity for networking and learning from one another. The diversity of thought, perspective, experience and expertise is, in my own humble opinion, what makes this conference such a success every year. It’s never the same event twice.

This year we are looking to up the ante again, focusing on the theme of Take Charge Leadership, as we continue to encourage these ASCD leaders to work with one another across their constituent groups and generate new ideas, initiatives and energy that they can take back home and implement in support of the educators they serve. And so the question we ask at the outset of this year’s L2L is, “What do you get when you allow talented, capable minds to self-select groupings and projects that will build their professional capital while providing new value and greater capacity to lead?” We are about to find out.

We look at leadership around eight very specific actions that are nurtured and sustained over time. Beginning our conference work around these actions and then moving into an unconferencing format that allows participants to take charge of their learning sets the tone for the weekend. We are also instituting for the first time Web-based polling that will allow everyone in attendance to vote and comment instantaneously using their mobile devices throughout the three days.  Modeling this as participants provide quantitative and qualitative feedback to one another will provide practice and experience with a tool our leaders can take back with them to their respective, states, provinces and countries.

By the time we wrap up Saturday, everyone will be saturated in new ideas and possibilities. L2L is always an exhausting experience for everyone involved. Exhausting and gratifying. What is most gratifying for us as staff is the number of return participants we have every year, and the highly positive feedback we receive from the conference participant surveys. The truth is, it’s the ASCD Leaders who come and participate who make L2L the success it is. As a membership organization, ASCD could not make the difference it does for educators everywhere without its constituent group leaders. L2L is ASCD’s way of giving back to our leaders in the field, offering them the skills and support to be effective on the ground where it matters most.

The Shift in Parent-School Engagement

PTC

Reposted from Roots of Action:

“Instead of a closed, self-sufficient system, schools must see themselves as open systems that engage in learning at the boundaries between families and communities. Peter Senge (2000) said it well, “If I had one wish for all our institutions, and the institution called school in particular, it is that we dedicate ourselves to allowing them to be what they would naturally become, which is human communities, not machines. Living beings who continually ask the questions: Why am I here? What is going on in my world? How might I and we best contribute?”

When we think of schools as learning communities, parents and teachers have the capacity to shift the machine metaphor from the grassroots upward. This is the type of change than cannot be mandated from the top-down or through policies like No Child Left Behind.  In fact, research shows that partnerships based on relationships, connectedness, and flexibility hold the keys to understanding how to increase student learning and motivation.

What does this paradigm shift mean to families and schools?  While parents and teachers have unique skills and expertise, no one is a single expert. We are all learners. We come together for the shared goal of educating the whole child. In many ways, we are what Etienne Wenger (2002) calls communities of practice, “groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their understanding and knowledge of this area by interacting on an ongoing basis.” What brings families and schools together is a passion for children and education.”

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