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Last Friday I took a scenic drive up to Boone for the Appalachian State FreeLearning Conference. Spoiler alert: if you can get to this conference, go! For a whole bunch of reasons this conference needs to be on your 2016 calendar including the awesome team that organized it, the wide regional representation (Duke folks, Elon faculty, Radford staff, UNC scholars, and quite a bit more from neighboring states and the community college system), and the town of Boone. After reporting back to the team here at ProctorFree, I’m posting a listicle of 5 things I learned at the FreeLearning Conference.
#1 -Great Keynote by Dr. Jay Fenwick
On how Drive, by Daniel Pink, has serious impact for motivating students in the educational space. This personally struck me. I’m used to seeing this from the other side – here’s educational or learning theory, apply it to online learning, or in my case entrepreneurship education. Fenwick totally flipped the script. He took a piece of literature written for businesses and organizations and plugged it into educational theory. Wow! Want a good recap? Check out the hashtag #FLCon15. Until then, here’s the 10-cent version.
#2 – “Learning styles are the myth that won’t die!”
The closing session was a highly interactive game where you had to guess (with your team) if the statement presented was an “Urban Legend” or “Practical Pedagogy”. The title was Are you an e-learning ninja? by Susan Van Patten & Candice Benjes-Small of Radford University. Apparently they have taken this show on the road to a few conferences. If you can get to this session at a conference in the near future, you have to go. I think I was 1 for 10 in guessing the right statement.
#5 – Digital Citizenship, while created for K12, has a big role in higher ed.
Melissa Weddell and Stephanie West from the Department of Recreation Management at App State did a killer presentation on Digital Citizenship. Digital Citizenship is all about appropriate use of technology. For example, when I taught in a Middle School we had a rule about Wikipedia: If you look something up on Wikipedia, you have to either edit or add to the page. Anyway, Digital Citizenship is more than relevant for college students. West and Weddell went around the room and had attendees discuss experiences with their students. You can only imagine the spectrum of stories that came out that room… One example I shared was about students’ friending me on Facebook and having to gently redirect them (see the educator’s language there?) to connect with me on LinkedIn. Now the student has an appreciation for what is and isn’t an appropriate connection, and hopefully nudges them to create a professional LinkedIn account.
I said it before, I’ll say it again. If you can make it to FreeLearning 2016, GO! The conference is free, the people are great, and the sessions are enlightening. Bonus points if you make it a long weekend and take time to explore North Carolina’s beautiful Highcountry and Blue Ridge Parkway.