McKerouac - A Month Stateside
It takes about two days, really, to get door-to-door from Edinburgh to anywhere in the States, so one might as well make as much of an invitation Stateside as one can.
Thanks to an initial generous invite to keynote Alan November's Boston-based Building Learning Communities (now sold out and with a long waiting list) later in July, and a tentative word-of-mouth twit/blog/email digital breadcrumb trail, I've been able to set up a month of events, conferences and research in the USA, with the total cost the Scottish taxpayer amounting to no more than about four nights in a hotel. A fair return on investment, I hope, from the following activities:
June 25th: Greenville, South Carolina
Contact me: Drury Inn Suites
I'll be keynoting the Upstate Technology Conference on some of the Participation Culture work I've been doing, and providing a few workshops on gaming, pro podcasting and exploiting digital images for learning. I'm really looking forward to meeting an increasing number of SC educators who have come out of the Twitter woodwork and blogosphere these past few months to virtually greet me. I'll also be thrilled to kick off one of about three rencontres this month with David Jakes, who I've not yet had the pleasure of hearing doing his thing.
June 27th: Arrival in San Antonio, Texas
June 28th: EdubloggerCon, San Antonio, Texas
Contact me: Hilton Palacio del Rio
Two things. First of all, I'm wondering with my 'spare' night in San Antonio whether Mr McLeod is anywhere nearby - or would like to be - for a reenactment of our Malt and Hops sesh last February. Secondly, I'm hoping to share some impromptu thoughts and, above all, I want to really get to the bottom of where US education is at in 2008. With every blog post from the States, I have to say, the virtual heads hang a little lower, a little more frustrated with a perceived lack of interest, progress or time and money to do things right. This is not the case in some other countries I've been fortunate to visit recently, including India, Slovenia, New Zealand or Holland; I'd love to understand why the States seem to be at a crunch point, see whether, in fact, they are, and, importantly, what might be done to reverse that. This group of educators is probably the best placed to look reflectively on a touchy issue. Hopefully some of them won't mind giving their rundown to camera.
June 29th-July 2nd: NECC, San Antonio, Texas
Contact me: San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk
I've ended up swinging a mini panel gig at this, thanks to the generosity of Uncles Will and Jakes. It's on the potential of video streaming for learning, for professional development, for, I dare say, entertainment.
For this week I'll be blogging primarily over at Connected Live, and hopefully updating with some video. LTS colleague Andy Pendry, currently working as the Technology Adviser for Glow, Scotland's national intranet, somehow managed to wangle a ticket and will be there, too, along with some BBC Scotland colleagues. I'll attempt to record a few wags of chin with them.
July 3rd-6th: Burbank, California
Contact me: Safari Inn, Burbank
The foothills of LA will be my home for a few nights as I finish off an eight-part video podcast production for learners of Spanish back in Europe. It's going to be launched on the MFLE later this summer, providing something a bit more attractive to an audience of teens back home, showing what Mexicana teens in the San Fernando Valley get up to, the strains they have with the older generations and the pressures they face in their day-to-day life in this huge City of Angels.
The (young) production company, Alas Media, is one that was a twinkle in our eye last summer as I canoed with Marco Torres' proteges Rosa and Miguel, trying to convince them that starting their own company would be a lot more exciting at their age than following the more traditional routes university was leading them down. Hopefully, what's turned out this past year has confirmed that for them. I'm just looking forward to spending July 4th eating Mexican, if I can find a home that'll take me in :-)
July 6th-July 10th: New York City, New York
Mrs Edublogger and Mc Mini will be joining me in New York for some (required) holiday vacation. Any ideas what we should see and do? So much to choose from, and we don't want to shatter ourselves. In fact, is it possible just to chill in the Big Apple?
July 10th-July 22nd: Boston, Mass.
Contact me (from July 14): Newton Marriott
Heading back up to Boston for more hols, with a few days near Harvard Yard before taking the T-line to Newton for the Building Learning Communities conference that kicked this itinerary off in the first place.
I'll be running a pre-conference workshop which still has a few places left if you're quick: come and enjoy taking some time in what gaming culture can bring to learning in the classroom and at home.
Come the opening day of the conference proper, I'll be a tad nervy as I deliver my keynote, It's Not All Native Wit, trying to get to the bottom of what makes some education systems 'good' and others less good. The title comes from the slight annoyance I've had over the years when demo-ing ideas for the classroom: "It's alright for him, he's young/a guy/a geek/got more time than I do/hasn't got kids of his own/can't sleep at all (delete as applicable)". For me, it's nothing to do with possessing some kind of pedagogical super powers or working a longer day than anyone else. I haven't and I don't. This talk will hopefully get to the bottom of what can make teachers even more remarkable beings than they currently are. I don't know what the reaction will be to a talk based on an annoyance, but this, after all, is where most innovation comes from: a problem or challenge that needs a quick, cheap long-lasting solution. I'm hoping this won't be any different. I'll let you know in a month...
Other sessions include more digital image work, a keynote follow-up and an appraisal of the trials and tribulations of this past year, trying to get more Local Authorities to follow East Lothian's example, and empower their staff (or make the staff feel empowered) to get online and share.
If you're around in any of these locations over the next month, do get in touch. I can't guarantee to be able to have a beer with everyone, though I don't mind trying. Above all, if you have places I need to eat, local foods and drinks I need to sample, or locations I have to visit, leave them in the comments here.
Pics: Greenville hills | San Antonio Riverwalk | Burbank LA | New York | Boston