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Cracking the Whip: FEDx Videos from the NSF Cyberlearning Research Summit at National Geographic in DC
Monday, February 06, 2012
So, is NSF cracking the whip to better understand how to impact learning with technology? I think so...well, actually, what I detail below was a quite friendly, informative, and engaging event. Much life. Much energy. Much passion. And dozens of exciting visions of the future of learning.

What am I talking about? A couple of weeks ago (January 18, 2012), I had the extreme pleasure to present in the Grosvenor Auditorium at National Geographic during the Cyberlearning Research Summit for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Washington, DC. This event, which was organized by people from Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and Lawrence Hall of Science along with NSF, was one of the most unique and engaging events of my life. In additon to NSF, organizations like the Gates Foundation were among the sponsors. Not surprisingly, the audience was packed with interesting people to meet.

People flew, drove, walked, ran, taxied, bused, and subway rode into the event. As a result, I got to see many friends at the event, including Tom Reeves from the University of Georgia, Roy Pea from Stanford, Sarah Haavind from Leslie University, YaTing Teng from Adobe, Michael Wenger formerly of Sun Microsystems, and I finally got to physically meet with Christine Greenhow who is now at Michigan State University (we have met in the cyberworld of conference event planning a couple of years back). Both Tom Reeves and Mike Wenger have chapters in my 2006 Handbook of Blended Learning, so it was great to introduce them to each other. In addition to the folks mentioned above, my fantastic friend, Dr. Sherry Hsi from Lawrence Hall of Science was among the main organizers. Here is a list of the organizers.

Summit Chairs

Jeremy Roschelle, SRI International, Menlo Park
Sherry Hsi, Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley

Advisory Committee, Reviewers, & Editors
Chad Dorsey, Concord Consortium
Daniel Edelson, National Geographic Society/National Geographic Education Foundation
Judi Fusco, SRI International
Chad Lane, University of Southern California
Linda Polin, Pepperdine University
Mimi Recker, Utah State University
Patricia Schank, SRI International

As a TED-like event, we each got a short amount of time to make our points. It was NOT TED, however. Given it was for the federal government, I wanted to call these FED talks. Someone else said that they were TED-ED talks. I countered that is was like one of those special TEDx talks, so about FedEx. Ya, like FEDx, the delivery was very fast with mostly on time deliveries. And no one messed up. In the practice session the day before, there were various technology issues and hang-ups. But these were ALL taken care of (Sherry Hsi made sure of that...she cracked the Sherry...just kidding my friend. Sherry was awesome in getting us prepared). Thanks to that practice, only one person had a video that would not play and he had a back-up plan so all was well.

There were around 24 speakers that day who each got about 10 minutes to discuss their research and vision of the future for learning with technology. There were also opening Welcoming Remarks from Danny Edelson from the National Geographic Society Janet Kolodner from the National Science Foundation, and Jeremy Roschelle from SRI International. After that, to "Set the Stage," we heard from my friend, Constance Steinkueler Squire from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (who was interviewed and quoted in the USA Today last week in an article on the benefits of video games and what the White House is currently doing in this area to promote gaming). The day ended with a closing reflection from Karen Cator from the US Department of Education. I enjoyed her quick comments and insights. I should also point out that Jeremy Rochelle acted as the host for the day and introduced each sections of talks. He too did a marvelous job.

The Cyberlearning Summit speakers were all nominated and then they had to put in a proposal. Only a few were selected (I was most lucky). Do check out the amazing speakers and their bios, the program, location, the topics, the graphics and videos of the talks, and more information exists in the About section. The also had a scrolling list of quotes from many researchers, scholars, and educators that played throughout the day.

For those like me who have a preference for visual representations of ideas, they hired a graphic facilitator to draw out our talks (here is a sample...a visual was drawm for each set of 4-5 speakers; mine is not yet posted). How cool is that! I has only happened to me once before (back in February 2011 in Saudi Arabia). The artist was Jim Nuttle. I highly recommend him.

Here is part of the description in the Cyberlearning Summit wiki:

"The Cyberlearning Research Summit was a high-profile gathering in Washington DC, featuring top quality research-based speakers who shared visions for the future of learning with emerging technologies. In the style of the TED conferences, speakers aimed to:

Discuss big ideas on at the intersection of emerging technology and research on learning;

Articulate the “transformative potential” of a direction or approach;
Communicate a sense of the broad research on this topic;

Engage, inspire, and stimulate thinking in this new program area.

Building on those visions, participants gathered as birds-of-a-feather to crystallize a sense of the unique opportunities that should be the focus of the research community now. We seek a community sense of how to couple the learning sciences with related fields of innovation to leverage new technology affordances for the deepest learning outcomes. Through the contributions of diverse participants, the summit sought to exemplify the “transformative potential” of cutting edge research and development to dramatically advance learning – and is expected to be influential in identifying promising directions for advanced R&D efforts."

There is now a YouTube Channel with these talks. My talk, "Stretching the Edges of Technology-Enhanced Teaching: From Tinkering to Tottering to Totally Extreme Learning" was just posted. This talk summarized explained the casual informal learning settings brought about by technologies such as Wikipedia as well as those deemed more extreme. See the new Extreme Learning website that my team is in the midst of designing.

I hate watching myself speak and, so, I have only watched a few seconds of my talk, but others say they like it. You can find it here. As you will see, I eventually found my way into my Indiana Jones (i.e., Indiana Curt) outfit, but did not feel comfortable enough to crack the whip during the 10 minutes (where were my friends, Aaron Doering and Charlie Miller from the University of Minnesota, when I needed them?). I did, however, get the audience to shout "WE-ALL-LEARN" a couple of times (based on my World is Open book) and jump up and down. You will have to watch to see I guess. I cannot watch it.

There are many brilliant talks from that day on mobile learning, robotics, virtual humans, cyber-civics, big data visualization, and complexity models of different kinds. One of my favorites was William (Bill) Swartout's talk, Virtual Humans for Learning. It is a definite must see! See also my old friends Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris discuss mobile, "Yes We Can-Now: All K-12 Teachers Enacting Learn-by-Doing."

How might you use? Here are 10 quick ideas off the top of my head.
1. Create a complete course around these videos on emerging technology for learning. As part of this, you might interview 1-2 of the presenters each week.
2. You might crack the whip and assign your students to watch ALL of the videos for one week of a semester.
3. Require students to read the research of particular presenters and then watch their video or vice versa.
4. Assign your students watch each of the 5 Talk Sets for themes.
5. Have your students select their favorite presenter and write to him or her.
6. Have your students engage in a role play related to different presenters, perhaps in a class symposium session (this is what I like to do).
7. Have your students create a wiki glossary of the key points of each presenter.
8. Organize virtual discussions of 1 or more the various presentations and ask the presenter to come in and lend feedback on the points made.
9. Assign different students to blog on each session.
10. Have students reorganize the session presentations for the day in a way that makes most sense to them.

There is much you might find useful from that day.

What a totally cool day! They need to do this again. Perhaps an annual event.

Of course, when we were done, there was a free reception (and drinks) in a wonderful open rooom at National Geographic. Oh my, what a day. We got on the bus at 7:15 am and got back at 10 pm or so. When I got to my hotel, my dear friend Paul Kim from Stanford University and Seeds for Empowerment arrived for a chat. He just happened to be in town for a meeting intended to change the world (I thought I had just attended one such event but Paul's was equally world changing). As an aside, Paul and my son Alex Bonk (Jabonk Productions) go to Tanzania this week to work with teachers and students there using mobile devices. Alex will do some facilitation of the training but is mainly there for his photography and filming skills. I think if NSF does another one of these events that Paul Kim should be first on their list to present. That guy is phenomenal.

I took 4 or so pages of notes from the NSF Cyberlearning Summit. Perhaps I will blog post all of that. Is anyone interested in reading?

In the meantime, watch some of the videos from January 18th. Or do I have to crack the whip?

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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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Click here for information about my recent book, The World is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education.

Visit the Indiana University Home Page of E-Learning Expert Curtis J. Bonk.

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