Wednesday, April 13, 2011

More About the Conference

I scanned the agenda of the conference for you to see. If that doesn't make you dizzy, I don't know what will!

As you may be able to see, there are three main categories: Leadership Workshop, Student Summit and Virtual Participant Involvement.

And, here's the second page! These 3 days, kept the participants very involved in the conference. Students and educators from around the world were brought together to research and pitch solutions to different global issues. This solutions had to include Web 2.0 tools for communication and collaboration. They had to develop multimedia products to share ideas.

I attach a link here for you to see projects of previous years:

Award Winners- Flat Classroom Conference.

The number of participants this year had exceeded the expectation. That's why we (the UNI students) had to help out as facilitators also, which was appreciated at the end with this nice certificate:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Aaaaaaaaand Action!

The serious part of the conference started on Friday. Unlike any other conference that you might have attended or heard about, this one was action-based, not lecture-based. It is hard to explain, but doesn't seem like anybody was bored!
Students from many different countries are in groups of four or five, and their teachers also formed small cohorts.

The interesting part was that no one in each group knew each other! Everyone within a group had to be from a different school_ many were from different countries. They had a very short time to work together and come up with a fascinating idea to implement collaboratively using technology!.............Way to flatten the world!

They had their short meetings, discussed problems of the world, came up with solutions and pitched it to each other. Students pitched their idea first. Teachers listened and criticized or gave suggestions for improvement. Then, it was the teachers turn! It was great to see the teachers with puppy faces standing in front of the students to pitch their ides and be criticized.

The idea was to come up with ways to collaborate globally to make the world a better place. Many tools such as google doc, wiki, voicethread, skype, etc. were used in their plans, while the main focus was not technology.

Meantime, there were mini workshops such as digital imaging and storytelling that everyone could attend and benefit from.

Then each group had to start developing their plan and they got voted on. Six students teams and six teachers team went to the top... and so on the process of elimination. There are really no true winners or losers. Every team had wonderful ideas that could be somehow implemented. Some were more clear and realistic.

Image Source: Private Collection

Conference at The Wall

The actions for the conference literally started at the Great Wall! Students and teachers were bussed there. Students were in groups of four. Each group had to take pictures and could use only five of them to tell a story; Digital storytelling with no words!

Although I got a T-shirt that says "I climbed the Great Wall", I have to admit I took a lift ride to the wall and Tobogganed down.

We just couldn't believe we were standing on the Great Wall
While we were up there, we tried to look around as much as we could in the short amount of time we had. I know I am going to come home in a few days and think to myself:

"was is all a dream, or was I actually there?!"

Tobogganing down was a blast, until I got stuck somewhere down the road in the slide, for some reason, while my friend, Deb, followed by Dr. Z were coming down full speed behind me!!! They were able to control their speed and our slight clash actually helped me start moving again. It's really not a very fast moving ride. I was even able to take a pictures as I was sliding down! I definitely recommend it.

Image Source: Private Collection

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The peer pressure is killing me! I just don't want to be the only one using a spoon at the table. Looks like when I'm hungry enough, I can use the chopsticks, but I just can't do it without hitting the person to my right!!! oh goodness. The food has been good so far. They bring variety at the table and we get to try all of it. Most tables have a spinning center that makes passing the food quite easy. Of course, we have to tease each other and spin it (kind of fast) when someone at the other end of the table reaching for food :)

Image Source: Private Collection

Greetings from Beijing!

YES! I finally got the access to my blog. Astrill didn't work, so I'm using my friend's Express VPN. I think I want my money back from Astrill! Anyway...
A lot has happened since I blogged last! We left Chicago at noon on Saturday and basically lost a day arriving on Sunday 4pm Beijing time. With the time difference, now I am 14 hours older than what I’m supposed to be!
This is Tuesday night and here’s the list
of places we have gone: A Chinese Acrobat show, The Ming
Tombs, Sacred Way, Tsinghua International School and The National School, kung fu show, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Peking duck dinner, Hu tong neighborhood, Chinese opera. My legs are on the verge of quitting and I’m not sure how I’m going to drag myself tomorrow.
(this was actually Wed. I copy-pasted this from word :)
The image on the right is a poster in one of the schools we visited. It says:

" Master books but do not let them master you. Read to live, not live to read."

Image source: Private Collection

Friday, February 18, 2011

Leaving Tonight! (well technically tomorrow)

One Word: NERVOUS! Can't avoid my heart pounding; don't know why! I have traveled to many different countries before. It's not that.......... It's leaving my family. Can't write much. I have to pack. Oh! I finally installed the VPN through Astrill, so I should have access to all the blocked sites in China.
By the way, check out the internet speed of different countries here:

United States: 10.27 Mb/s
China: 3.49 Mb/s

Ed Tech and Design students, no more complaints for having a slow computer :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Counting the days...

I think I mentioned there are eight of us graduate students going to Beijing; ALL female! and somewhere down the road, we got the title of "Beijing Babes"! Not much of a professional title to be known as at a conference; just an inside joke, I guess. And then there's Dr. Z (short for Zeitz), one of the UNI faculty accompanying and guiding us through the whole process, besides our course instructor. By the way, if you already don't know this, he's got a cool educational blog at drzreflects if you're into watching fun videos and reading amazing things about education and technology.

Since this course is online, I actually haven't met any of the students in person yet , but we have had many means of communication so far. Besides our good old elearning tool, we also have had meetings through Adobe Connect, and Skype, and we have been sharing our thoughts and documents through different Google Docs and a wiki...
Yeah, I know! This bunch is too cool to use a regular phone!

We're almost ready to go and exited to share our experience Live, and connect to our students and/or families from Beijing. Some tools such as facebook, and google doc are actually blocked by the government, but I learned about a trick_or a new tool_ called VPN, virtual personal network! This system allows you to pay and use the blocked features, and the price is very reasonable.

Image Source: by by olemiswebs