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March 19, 2008


Chris Champion

45 minutes of slide deck? Maybe less is more. Hopefully you have 10 or so slides that "maintains the conversation" rather than "drives the presentation" :-) Just thinking EduCon-ic.


Christian's Response:

Let me re-phrase my original statement.

The remaining 45 minutes will be sparked by the slides I have on screen (after this initial video eye-opener and conversation provocation).

That being said, because I rarely use 'words' on any of my slides, I am a little more forgiving of my slide deck count. This is especially true when I'm working with school architects and builders who ** love ** pictures of innovative school buildings.

Because it is a Keynote presentation in a big room, the 'conversation' between the audience and myself is a bit limited (vs. workshops in smaller rooms), so I have to think of creative ways of getting them involved. I have to at least get them to squirm in their seats a bit (in a good way, he smiles), even if the back-n-forth talking with me is sadly limited.

I do, however, find myself nodding up and down at your reminder of the SLA experience and the need to cut slides down to a bare minimum. This is what I'll be working on between now and then. Probably keep it at about 30, but again this is heavily image-centric...with NO bullet point lists.

Thanks, Chris. Timely comment for me to wrestle with.

Peter Brown


all good thoughts. this learning environment also raises questions and ideas about workplace design.

2024 isn't that far away.

2009-2010 bond planning and election
2010-2011 design phases
2011-2013 Construction
may 2014 first complete year in building.
may 2024 building celebrates it's 10 year anniversary.

will school be shaped by Y2K 'turn of the century' concepts or 2024 concepts and beyond?

Good luck with the presentation and preparations.

Peter Brown


Christian's response:

Man, what a savvy way to re-interpret the 2024 premise. Love it. And for the traditional money and construction guys in the room, it'll undoubtedly be a legit bit of intellectual currency. Might even allow them to accept this 'just a teacher' guy (he smiles).

Much thanks, Peter.

BTW, I'm really anxious to see your soon-to-be-released school design oriented blog. I believe you're going to be a vital voice bringing folks from the education community into the architect's studio!


The visual challenge is great - I can imagine a lot of the audience will straight away engage in the conversation you are inspiring here. The questions you pose will drive the discussions and the 'epiphany' and 'reverse' will I'm sure create a lot of head-nods and light-bulbs!

Is there an opportunity to go further - I'm sure the venue will have wifi and there will be people with laptops there - how about throw out a collaborative challenge through the medium of a wiki for comments and insights on your question... a further illustration of using different platforms for debate ?

Break a leg my friend!


Christian's response:

OK, now how am I gonna possibly un-think the "Skype in the network" premise that you've just nuclear bombed into my brain, my friend? How? Can you tell me? (he grins happily)

I actually do NOT know if anyone will have a live laptop in the room. Tends to be a yellow legal pad group; many ask, "Can I have a copy of the PowerPoint handouts?", in lieu of actually 'engaging' the conversation in 'live' terms.

I can, however, see having a Skype chat running on my desktop where I 'invite' my network to join in the conversation. Or maybe Twitter. Something, either way. Not sure the audience will 'care' about the specific tools, but they might enjoy seeing someone(s) jumping in virtually in real-time.

Gonna have to have a few folks help me set it up ahead of time, and be willing to join the conversation in advance.

Thanks, DK -- great nudge!

A. Mercer

the idea from 6:45 to 6:58 about seeing your child ubiquitously and how that affects the relationship you have with them. Then you ask them to flip it. This looks like a really static relationship. You're essentially a peeping tom on your kid. Now I don't mean that in the perverted sense, but that it's not an interactive or even transactional relationship. You see them, but they don't see you, and there is no direct communication, they can't talk and tell you what's going on. They can't see you. To me, it's a window, but it's just a peep, or a piece of the puzzle. My thoughts for what they are worth. Nice hearing you today on Ed Tech Talk.


Christian's response:

Let me say right off the bat that I appreciate the P.O.V. you're offering here. On a generic level, I am 100% in agreement with the need to focus on 2-way conversation. Hence, I'm using the "School 2.0" concept intentionally since it inherently stresses the back-n-forth collaborative nature of new web apps (and mindsets inspired by such).

What I'd love for you to understand about this specific video and its role in the longer presentation are the following points:

1) The video serves as a starting point only. My audience will be -- for the most part -- unfamiliar with the 2.0 semantic and related tech apps. With that in mind, I first need a 1-dimensional case study to explore as a 'space' issue first and foremost. Then, and only then, can I move on to the implications of the classroom being fully accessible by all invited guests 24/7. This is where the video ends...and the real presentation begins.

2) Consider a couple of things on a really practical level re: the 'window' model you mentioned above. How many parents have real access to their child's/children's classroom experience outside of an occasional parent/teacher conference or a short convo at the dinner table if the kid is willing to share? Likewise, how many students who are home sick, traveling, etc, have access to their classes if they are not literally inside those 4 walls along with their teacher/classmates? And how frequently are classes recorded for future consideration at future dates? As you can imagine where I'm going, the answer is either a) never or b) rare, truly rare. For many of my audience members, this may be the first time they've really seen this as an opportunity to re-think how schools function...and what design implications grow out of such a conversation.

3) By starting the presentation with an architectural/construction construct, my audience -- of school designers/builders -- are in a position to start with their expertise and comfort zones. The shift mid-way through the presentation allows them to literally draw back and re-think the very fact that they are watching real kids in a real classroom -- anytime they want to -- via the Net. This, as you can imagine, opens the door for a) what would it be like to be able to be 'aware' of your own kid's classroom experience on this level anytime you want and b) what are the opportunities IF we turn it into a 2-way conversation. This, I believe, is what you are pushing at. And as I implied in my post, I am going there after the video is over...and will use the next 45 minutes to explore this issue through emerging technology and related opportunities for all types of learning communities.

4) Ultimately, the goal is to ask what the implications are for designers and builders to re-think what a 'learning space' is if we can access them 24/7 from anywhere, as often as we like, and then engage back and forth in real-time.

I hope this helps. And thanks for the nod to the EdTechTalk conversation which I was really flattered to be a part of today.

Laura Deisley

I like Darren's thoughts here, but I don't think it works this go-round for the audience you've got in front of you. To the "uninitiated" I think you're better off with showing the candy from the front of the room--when they can experience a quick Skype vid chat and a Twitter shout out and perhaps one of Utect's student videos (Global Issues Network pieces from the 8th grade). They'll thirst...and that is what I think you are after.

In my DM to you I noted how valuable the non-multi-tasking and less immersive intro video you've crafted might be for these guys. They get to participate in something that is at least somewhat familiar to them--and begin to mentally construct the reach to a new paradigm. When you graduate them to Skype/Twitter/etc you solidfy the new reality--they don't need to play in the dirt here in order to "get it." But...as you know you will open the can of worms...and next time they will want to play!


Christian's response:

Thanks for the comments, Laura.

Playing off your ideas above, the ultimate point of this particular conference -- and my keynote -- is NOT about technology. It is about school design. Literally, it is about architects and builders trying to bring to life new buildings, or renovating existing campuses. Additionally, the school leaders (board members, superintendents, facility managers, etc.) have to consider the political and economic consequences of their most innovative and conservative choices.

Why am I even considering the Web 2.0 relationship?

Essentially, it has become very common for the "21st century" school phrase to be thrown around when school design projects come around, with little consideration for what that really means in tangible terms. Computers? Global curriculum? "Flat" classrooms?

Tell me: who really knows what this all means when it comes to construction opportunities? Sure, as a metaphor, perhaps. But as a real design principle, did that much really change between 1999 and 2000 to imply that it's all different? Not sure that one can really argue that based on a re-calculation of one year to another.

On the other hand, Web 2.0 tools are tangible. So is the idea of a transparent, 2-way collaborative learning opportunity. This has a very real implications when it comes to space design -- think the 'wall' between a classroom and hallway, for instance, or whether or not every part of a campus is covered under the school's WiFi protocol.

At the same time, Skype or Twitter -- per se -- has almost nothing to do with this conference or the ideas at play. While I can Skype in a dozen outsiders, will the take-away be for the average architect in the room be: "Hey, I gotta get me some Skype because it'll change the way I design my next gymnasium? Man, can you show me how to Twitter again so I can get the square footage ratios right on my next academic wing design?"

If I had more than a single hour, and was not the keynote, I'd definitely employ more 2.0 tools to demonstrate what it means up close. But with only 1 hour and being 'way up on stage', I'm using tools like Skype/Twitter/blogging only as indicators that our students are living in a vastly different universe when it comes to learning, information searching, and collaboration.

Beyond that, they want to hear more about buildings and learning styles then they want to learn about Silicon Valley.

What I like about what you said above is the "thirst" for more concept. Yes. This is only a teaser and provocation presentation; it is not a full-on tutorial. I really appreciate your ability to re-frame the whole point. Want to come up on stage with me? You might pull this off better than I will!

Carolyn Foote


Here's what I'm picturing when I think about your keynote--the computer "lab" at SLA. Which as you recall, was a room with desks in it, no computers to be found because they were all portable.

When I think of designing for the year 2024, that's the sort of thing I think about. What does the space look like when it's more about the people in it, and how they communicate, than about the placement of the "stuff."

I'm intrigued by your question of how to make the keynote more interactive, and I agree that the tools aren't what it is about.

I'm thinking of things more like this--the Ustream of Karl Fisch's students having a dialogue with Daniel Pink via Skype--or students at High Tech High in the hallways building things with hammers and nails and displaying their own constructed art all over the building. How do those sorts of "constructions" by students change how a building should function, and how does the function of the building change the dynamic?

The thing about 2.0 is as you said the agility--and it's also about the exchanges--the conversations--the interactions. How should classrooms and schools look different if we are really trying to facilitate conversations instead of sage on the stage? If we are really trying to promote interactions of all kinds, in all directions?

Do we really set the principal's office off in its own island area? Do we have areas outside the classroom for students to exchange ideas, student unions, etc.? Do we have areas in the hallway for them to gather? Does a library become more of a student union/learning space in the future when so many services will be electronic?

Not really answering your question but I'm interested in the concept of your presentation! Look forward to hearing more about it!


Christian's response:

Man, oh man, oh man, do I appreciate this response of yours, Carolyn. Truly. In many ways, I wish it was a post of your own that I had read and responded to. Maybe you ought to use it as an outline...and expand on it on your own site (hint, hint, nudge, nudge).

In particular, I appreciate your focusing on the 2024 (et al) premise that it'll be more important how people interact than what "stuff" will be in a given space.

I just had dinner with Peter Brown, a mentor and friend of mine who has been designing award-winning schools for years now all around the world; he also left a comment above. We were sitting outside as the sun was setting, enjoying a frozen custard at a local joint where a small courtyard with a fountain and blooming bushes/flowers keep the noise from the road a bit more quiet than normal. His daughter was walking around the fountain, spinning around a bit, enjoying her sundae.

Peter mentioned a colleague -- a longtime elementary school principal -- who's philosophy about school architecture was one of the most powerful he had ever heard. Essentially she said, "Design as if you really care about how the people will feel when they are there. Ask yourself if they will feel comfortable, if they'll be drawn there, if they will feel alive."

It's not rocket science, but Peter and I definitely agree with her thinking. And even though I'll be spending a lot of time talking about technology and digital x, y & z with my audience as I push on the "Designing School 2.0" concept, the truth is that I'll really be arguing for more "human" spaces that really take seriously the premise that people need spaces where they can create, explore, collaborate, and feel alive in.

Call such spaces anything you want: classrooms or learning labs. But just commit to the "human" factor first and foremost. Same as with technology, no?

BTW, I love that you didn't really answer my question. Who cares about my question. Instead, I love the questions you asked in response. Nodding up and down on all fronts as I read them again. Thanks, friend!

Jeff Martinez


I greatly enjoyed reading all the background collaboration put into your presentation. You've substantiated a thought methodology that I have come to rely on. Not a stroke of genius on my part, by any means. More a tactic of survival in an ever changing climate of technology, necessity, ideology and budgets.

Back to your Keynote. I can tell you, as one who present, the light-bulbs weren't lighting. They were exploding. Your incredibly engaging and down to earth perspective was well received and thoroughly enjoyed by all. (I'm not just saying that as a fellow Mainer and member of Red Sox Nation, either). I'll look forward to following your offerings and the questions I'm sure, that follow.

Finally, what struck me most was your input regarding the "branding" of us and our kids as we move forward. I am the father of a 2 1/2 and a 6 month old and of all the insights you brought forth, This was my "light-bulb". Well done.

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