Sunday, April 11, 2010

10 Things I Learned at TEDxOntarioEd

As a member of the team that brought TEDxOntarioEd to life, I've been privileged to follow the reflections of participants throughout the weekend. As much as we were able to learn from the motivated lifelong learners who took to the TEDx stage, the lessons I learned were in the process as much as the product.

1] Brand Magic:
When you run an event associated with TED, you are far more likely to engage top notch talent. In our case, we were blown away by the quality of speakers who participated in our event at no cost.

2] Pushing Pixels:
In taking the lead on the LiveStream broadcast of our event, I discovered that pixels go to incredible places; like a prim on cedar island in SecondLife.

3] Creativity Matters:
When educators (and students) get opportunities to create for a real audience, they often do their most amazing work. As evidence, consider the set props, food, and public speaking each of us experienced.

4] Glitches are Part of the Story:
In leveraging computers; remote Adobe Connect feeds; digital video cameras; microphones; presentation media; multi-point lighting; video switchers; monitors; sound boards; and video production software, hiccups were almost guaranteed. Being open and honest with our audience was one way to model the risk-taking that we encourage among educators far and wide.

5] Social Matters:
In his reflective response to TEDxOntarioEd, Graham Whisen's calls it "The New Knowing" and highlights many of the reasons we encouraged remote participants to host satellite viewing parties for the event. Aviva hosted one of these events and writes about a transformation we couldn't see.

6] Support = Trust:
The London District Catholic School Board, (my home board) entrusted us to an amazing site, and a wide range of technology. Colleagues from Building Services, the ICT department, and Program Department, each contributed their time, talent and attention. Trust on the part of many individuals made it all possible.

7] It Begins and Ends with Students:
Our culminating speaker's talk will soon hit YouTube. My prediction is that it will outdraw all of the other talks from April 9th. Change happens when educators can commit to addressing the real needs of learners; and when an 'at risk' student captivates an audience to set us straight, you can't help but pay attention.

8] The TED Divide:
Those who were on hand, 'get' TED; and were likely to have pre-exisitng professional learning relationships with other attendees. Many of those who dismissed our invitation to attend, did so without prior knowledge of TED, and may yet be unaware of the power of personal learning networks. The buzz at our event was due in large part, to the fact that the majority of attendees were on the same side of the divide.

9] TED is a Global Phenomenon:
LiveStream analytics tracked over 800 unique online viewers. As expected, Canada and the USA had the most participants; with Australia, the United Kingdom, India, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Portugal and the Netherlands each having at least 12 unique viewers.

10] It Takes a Team:
A tight group representing a number of different regional school boards, pooled their collective talents to bring TEDxOntarioEd to life. Planning meetings took place via Skype, so Friday evening was the only time we'd actually been together in the same place. The result was one of the most challenging and affirming projects I've ever been associated with. Without a doubt, I'll be looking for future opportunities to work with Ben Hazzard, Jamie Weir, Sharon Drummond, Kim McGill and Colin Jagoe.

If you are interested in seeing or hearing what others have to say about TEDxOntarioEd, I've been tagging photos and related blog posts at

Photo Credits: rosefirerising and the TEDxOntario photo team
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