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Leadership and Activism

Occupying the social space around #ISTE11

from the NWP Hack-Jam at SLA

from the NWP Hack-Jam at SLA

So far I’ve spent my time at #ISTE11 working with and thinking about the Coöp and the National Writing Project (NWP). Yesterday, Paul and I helped facilitate a Hackasaurus-inspired NWP Hack-Jam attended by David and John, amongst others. The evening before that I got to spend time with David, Deven, Mary Beth, Paul, and Shelley over dinner, and last night I met up with Jamie before supper with Becky, Pam, and Paula et al. Peter is here, too, and I plan to find him tonight. And I saw Kyle!

I am a big fan of the NWP presence at #ISTE11. Teacher leaders and NWP coordinators are presenting a number of ISTE Unplugged sessions in addition to the Hack-Jam. The organization is really showcasing how much its teachers and network have to offer in terms of leadership on composition in new media and the development of students and teachers’ new media production literacies. I think, also, that by hosting the Hack Jam at the Science Leadership Academy (SLA – thank you!), and by encouraging teacher consultants to present through ISTE Unplugged, NWP has taken advantage of the smaller, social spaces around #ISTE11’s main events. I’ve experienced and anticipate more useful, challenging, and nuanced conversations in these spaces than in the official sessions of this behemoth conference.

I wonder about adopting such a strategy for the Coöp. Insomuch as we think about strategy, would it be useful and strengthening for us – as our community – to occupy and offer an invitation to the the social spaces around conferences and gatherings like #ISTE11? What else, apart from breaking-bread together (which is absolutely necessary!), would help us bond with one another and make a clear invitation to others to join our work – the work of helping kids create personal meaning out of education? What level of democracy and/or organicism do we lose – or gain – in pursuing a strategy like that? How do we resource it? How do we find places that are inviting to us?

Is that even the right thing to do?

Paula was stopped and asked if she was a member of the Coöp; John told me about some evidence of our impact that he’s seen and heard; John and I talked about hosting some long-form writing on the Coöp. I am heartened and curious about how to help change education.

What do we think? Community members (definitely included in “we”), what do you think? How can we help and involve you?

About Chad Sansing

I teach for the users. Opinions are mine; content is ours.


6 thoughts on “Occupying the social space around #ISTE11

  1. I don’t know ISTE, but in terms of organizing, this sounds good.

    Posted by Sue VanHattum | June 27, 2011, 12:55 pm
  2. Hi Chad,

    I like the strategy of “occupying the social spaces” around conferences. Speaking from the experience of the National Writing Project, we essentially adopted that same strategy at ISTE 2011, and I think to good effect. By mobilizing as a bloc to lead unplugged sessions throughout the day yesterday; by helping to facilitate the Hack Jam offtsite (at SLA) Sunday; and by hosting casual events like last night’s #engchat and tomorrow night’s Teachers Teaching Teachers at bars, I think we’ve made our presence known while carving out spaces for interested educators to learn more about us and to engage in conversation related to topics we value without having to deal with the kinds of inclusive/exclusive issues John raises in his thoughtful post (


    Posted by Paul Oh | June 28, 2011, 8:29 am
    • I forgot to mention that it’s worth noting how the unplugged session space and blogger’s cafe are at the very fringe of the conference space and that the unplugged arena also contends with a great deal of noise. When I was trying to find the unplugged area yesterday, many of the information guides didn’t know what it was. Says a lot to me about the value (or lack thereof) placed on socially focused, self-directed learning environments that are not corporate sponsored.


      Posted by Paul Oh | June 28, 2011, 8:34 am
  3. this is a good notice Paul:
    the value (or lack thereof) placed on socially focused, self-directed learning environments that are not corporate sponsored.

    combine that with John’s comment on the footprint we leave when there is a corporate sponsor.. (in his recent post)

    i don’t know very much, but i’m thinking those two ideas alone are huge in what we seem to be promoting as good things for kids to do/be.
    was reading an excerpt from Thomas J Delong’s Flying Without a Net, seems fitting:
    At the end of the day what I’m suggesting is that vulnerability in context can be the most powerful behavior in initiating change.

    Posted by monika hardy | June 28, 2011, 2:12 pm
  4. I’ve been watching from afar, and wishing I was closer to your HackJam session.
    I know very little of the conference, other than Bud Hunt saying he brings his crap detector when roaming the merchandise rooms where educators get bombarded to buy “the next thing to transform education.” So, I am happy that NWP can go the other route — yeah, we can hack our way into something meaningful, too.
    Thanks for setting up the Tumblr blog to follow, too.

    Posted by KevinHodgson | June 28, 2011, 5:00 pm
    • The Hack Jam was a pleasure, and the conversations in the social spaces have been so humorous and heartfelt and useful in learning about our fellows that I very much to somehow systemize approaches to scaffolding such spaces without prescribing what goes on within them.

      Peace, Kevin –

      Posted by Chad Sansing | June 29, 2011, 10:41 am

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