Thoughts on the NWEA Fusion Conference

IMG_3920The Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA)’s annual Fusion conference is underway in Portland, Oregon and I write from that beautiful city on the third and final day of what has been undoubtedly the CPD highlight of my year.  It is not simply that the speakers and presenters have been so engaging, but also that the quality of discourse in the halls, lobbies, corridors and coffee stations has been so high.

As ever, one can measure the buzz to some extent by the number of tweets being uploaded to the conference’s hashtag, but it’s also noticeable to me how many presenters are switching to iPads instead of relying on cue cards or a teleprompt (pictured above is NWEA President Matt Chapman who gave his excellent keynote on day one with the aid of his new iPad Mini).  This has to be a skill we start to teach students.  It’s one we can state with a fair degree of confidence will be useful to them – at least in the mid-term future.

My own presentation was titled The Data Honeytrap – and how to avoid it, and I’ll be posting on that topic and including some of the content from my presentation in a future post.  The central thesis is the need to teach data literacy.  I was delighted to see that by sheer coincidence a non-school-related statistic I quoted in my presentation (one that cast doubt back in May on the assumption the UK had suffered a double dip recession) was verified yesterday – just a day after my presentation.

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Above my slide – presented June 26th. Below BBC new story posted June 27th!Screen Shot 2013-06-28 at 06.43.44

I wish I could say I had planned it that way, but my influence doesn’t stretch that far.

Part of the rest of the presentation was focused on sharing the preliminary results of the Teacher Reflections Project.  In preparing for this presentation I noticed that two of the ten pedagogies that teachers reported most useful in the iPad classroom had already changed since my first presentation of this emerging data in March.  Collaborative learning and mnemoics-supporting apps have both dropped out for different reasons.  Flipped-classroom supporting apps and student-centred learning apps supporting peer-to-peer discourse (e.g. Socrative, Edmodo and so forth) are in.  I’ll be discussing why I believe this is so in a later post.

NWEA Fusion has a day to go and if it’s anything like the first two, I’ll be very glad I returned to the beautiful Pacific Northwest.