Educon 2.2 Prenote: What is your innovation?

Educon 2.2 Prenote: What is your innovation?

I have been thinking a lot about my session at Educon 2.2, and I think that I have finally figured out just what kind of conversation I would like to have. Originally, I thought that I would really be working with presenting ideas in context, with meaning, and for perspective. I thought that this would produce a lot of really good conversation and help everyone taking part to build their own context or meaning for their own innovations. While, I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad way to go, I think it is really just too uninspiring to create any lasting change. And, I decided a couple of days ago that if I let a chance to be in the same room with the smartest people I know go by without changing myself, them, or the way that we do things in education for the better then I might as well not even go.

With that said, here is the plan:

I would like to pose to anyone who would like to take part in this session (you can be attending Educon 2.2 or not) the following question: “What is your innovation in education, and why does it matter?”

The reason why I want to answer this question is because I believe that innovation is the only thing that will save modern public education. I believe that somewhere out there is an innovative idea that is being executed extremely well, but is not fully explored by our network. I believe that we are all engaged in disrupting the current crop of educational theory with our own successful practice, and we need to tell that story. I believe that if we do not take the opportunity to stand up and say why it is that our ideas matter, no one will take them seriously.

So, this is a shout out to anyone who would like to do a “Prenote”.

To me, this term means that we all do the presentation before we get to Educon so that we can get on with the conversation without being hampered by that facade. We do the prenote so that our biases, passion, and ideas can be gathered into one spot before we set foot inside SLA. It is a way of preserving a snapshot of what we were like before Educon 2.2, because I believe that with a little work, we can all come away changed from such an event.

So, here are the logistics:

  • Answer the above question using one of the following methods:
  • – Record yourself with just your voice and your face answering the question
  • Create an ignite-style presentation (see Chris Lehmann’s here) and then upload it to youtube
  • Enter the link into the following Google Form:
  • Loading…

Make sure you tag your YouTube video with #educon22 and #educonnovation (I will be using the second tag for my session, and yes, I do know it is ridiculous)

After the first 5 or so people do this (I hope we get at least 5), I will set up a SpeedGeek Learning session to organize the videos and create a backchannel conversation and collaborative documents around all of them. The idea is that during my session at Educon 2.2, we will be able to collaborate on the best or most inspiring innovations in our midst and come up with some concrete plans for executing them to a greater scale. Because for me, putting together these answers to the question will be nothing if we do not act on their challenge to become better educators, learners, and humans.

Any takers?


    1. Ben Wilkoff

      I don’t think that it is immodest to state what you believe and realize that it is outside of the norm. I don’t believe that innovation is unique; I believe that it is a daily process for anyone who thinks critically about the world around them and does something about it. I think it is okay to be proud of that. Right?

  1. “engaged in disrupting the current crop of educational theory”

    I always hedge a bit when I hear comments like this. We may be talking about disrupting the “system,” but we should be doing this at the expense of current “educational theory.” Which theory are you talking about? Social Constructivism? Connectivism? Conceptual Change Theory? We know a hell of a lot about how people learn. We also know a lot about how to teach (or build learning experiences). The challenge is applying what we know to the change the status quo.

    With that said, I like your idea — I’m just critiquing the need to disrupt the “theory” instead of focusing on innovative synthesis of what we know about progressive teaching and learning.

    1. Ben Wilkoff

      Alright, so I don’t really want to disrupt Educational Theory, especially not Connectivism. What I really want is to disrupt theories about education that much of the public have. I want to make sure that we are doing our job to create an innovative system that spins its theory from the every day practice of connected and authentic learning. I want the innovations to be felt within households and within schools so that our “current crop” of theory stands up to the heavy pressure of those who want to see it fail, those who believe it doesn’t really exist or that it can’t work. While I may see the fruits of learning through a just-in-time network of engaged individuals, true innovation is the only way that others will ever see it as well.

      I hope that makes sense.

  2. I agree with Paul for a couple reasons. I think when we’re looking from the inside at things we do (especially things other people may call “innovative”), we see all of the pieces and influences that led to the innovation, so it doesn’t seem to us very new or noteworthy. It also takes a bit of arrogance I think for someone to point to themselves and say, “Look at how I’m changing the field.”

    We work in a field that promotes differentiation, but rewards uniformity of results. Being an innovator isn’t encouraged in the field, so even when we are doing innovative things, educators aren’t inclined to brag about it.

    I also think that some important innovations seem small to the people doing them. They are undramatic, and so are not worth mentioning.

    I hope that you are able to find people willing to brag a little about the little things that are making a big difference in their schools.

    1. Ben Wilkoff


      Innovation cannot come from nothing. I think that all true innovation is built upon what has come before. It is about making different connections or asking a better question. I don’t think it is arrogance that it requires to call yourself an innovator, but rather a level of respect for yourself that you are creating something. While it may not be new, it is still the act of creation.

      I will definitely agree that important innovations are overlooked for a while, but I think that anyone who has something to say, should say it and be okay with standing behind it. Perhaps if I framed the question as “what are you trying to say in education” it would be easier, but I want to know what is working or is creating a unique experience for kids and not just what people are talking about. Innovation can be a failure too, but any educator who wants to be ordinary, clearly doesn’t respect the awesome power that we have to change the way that we learn.

  3. Thanks for the clarification Ben-
    I am a science educator, so when I hear the word “theory” I interpret it to have a very specific meaning. I agree that public perception, including the perceptions of many policymakers, views the holy grail of education as having kids master the “basics” — even though the basics are know where near enough. They often view progressive education and the research supporting it as being “soft.”

    One of the biggest challenges we face is that our “one size fits all” paradigm is very difficult to overcome. We talk a lot about differentiation and individualization, but that is very difficult to accomplish within the normal classroom structure. I hope your video challenge (and presentation) includes some discussion of how teachers create structures that allow for true individualization.

  4. i love what you are doing.. i am so in.
    when do you need this by?
    i have our plan – an innovation lab for the district – in blog post form and in a more detailed google doc form… unfortunately, i have no time… until late tonight.. to possibly record me talking about it..
    is a post an ok way to share this?

  5. bhwilkoff

    I am putting together my session tonight and tomorrow. If you have any
    ability to record a video summary of what you are doing, go ahead…
    otherwise, just send me some links and I will put them with the other

    I'm so glad that you like what I'm doing. I think it is going to be a great
    conversation. Talk to you soon.

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