My Reality Isn’t Virtual

February 1, 2018

Just returned from the Future of Educational Technology Conference in Orlando. Tech coaches, directors of technology, assistant superintendents of curriculum and instruction, superintendents, media specialists, teachers and tech company folks, all learning from one another how to use technology to support student learning. 42 countries were in attendance. All states in the USA were represented. Blackboard, Microsoft, Apple, Epson, and seemingly every ed tech company flooded the Exhibit Hall. Sir Ken Robinson keynoted. Podcasts, tweets, Instagram pics and emails were recorded, taken and sent. The sales folks in the hall wore T-shirts and jeans versus suits and ties. The most frustrating experience for participants was not having speedy enough Internet access.

As I registered, the conference provided me ribbons. I didn’t add this ribbon:

“My Reality is Virtual…”

Because it isn’t. Just virtual that is.

Jon Bergmann, CAO of Flipped Classroom, who talked to me about active engagement of students AND relationships (virtual and in person), would agree.

Peter Kraft, from Evolution Labs, an online company that supports social-emotional learning and character education and works on supporting humane, inter- and intra-personal communication, would agree.

Pilar Quezzaire, who works on tech integration with the International Baccalaureate, and spoke to me about standards with the I.B. around adult collaboration and learning in schools would agree.

Caitlin Krause, who leads Mindwise and encourages us to have mindful and wise collaboration would agree too.

Tara Subramaniam, Executive Director of Student Voice, an organization which started as a Twitter chat, and is now doing a degree in Foreign Policy at Georgetown because of her experience at Model United Nations, an in-person experience, would agree with me.

And at FETC, we all met in person.

I try to be gen savvy. I present webinars, participate in Twitter Chats, and speak on podcasts. AND, my best memories this trip were from the meal of Venezuelan food with folks from across the globe; were the smiles I got while on the shuttle bus going to and from the hotel, and the panelists with whom I shared a microphone. All in person. My reality is virtual and not. Yours?

If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at Jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cool Resources

Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials, by Millennial Malcolm Harris. Booklist says, “Harris writes clearly and thoughtfully on key issues facing this generation today…[he] reveals the political, cultural, and economic climates that Millennials need to navigate, along with the new issues, never seen in previous generations, Millennials must address. Readers interested in sociology of class, economic history, and the millennial generation will find plenty of fascinating food for thought here.”

Reconcilable Differences: Connecting in a Disconnected World by Dawna Markova, Ph.D. and Angie McArthur. Amazon blurb says, “Each of us possesses rational intelligence: the capacity to divide information into discrete categories, processes, and logical steps. But you may not realize that the secret to building bridges between people lies hidden in your relational intelligence: the way you communicate, understand, learn, and trust. Reconcilable Differences shows you how to map mind patterns (the secret to pinpointing communication pitfalls) and identify thinking talents (the catalysts for peak performance). You will gain insights into how you learn in order to turn doubt into trust and uncertainty into productive engagement.”

And a piece of fiction I really appreciated, The Power by Naomi Alderman. Barack Obama put it on his 2017 reading list. It was one of the NYT’s Top 10 Books of the Year. AP English classes will be using this book in classrooms soon, I bet. From the blurb, “What would happen if women suddenly possessed a fierce new power? From award-winning author Naomi Alderman, THE POWER is speculative fiction at its most ambitious and provocative, at once taking us on a thrilling journey to an alternate reality, and exposing our own world in bold and surprising ways.”

About Jennifer Abrams

Jennifer Abrams

Jennifer Abrams considers herself a "voice coach," helping others learn how to best use their voices – be it collaborating on a team, presenting in front of an audience, coaching a colleague and supervising an employee. Jennifer holds a Master's degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Jennifer's publications include Having Hard Conversations, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicating, Collaborating & Creating Community and Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, the Whens and the What Ifs. She has also created a Corwin Press e-course by the same name.

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Praise for Jennifer

“Our school’s work with Jennifer Abrams has sown the seeds of stronger communication skills among the adults in the building. This has only served to strengthen the integrity of communication between staff and students as well. We’ve added her language to our expectations: honest, humane, and growth-producing conversations occur regularly.”

Dr. Nancy Frey, Dean of Academic Affairs
Health Sciences High and Middle College, San Diego, CA