Notes from India – I’m not sure you appreciate…

Conference organizers usually strive to have participants leave upbeat and energized at the end of the conference. I violated that rule on the last day of the ASB Unplugged conference in Mumbai, India. 

Each of the February TEDxASB speakers had 3 minutes to speak to the audience. Scott Klososky’s segment with an American School of Bombay student was particularly awesome and I hope someone captured it on video.

In both of my two leadership workshops, I kept hearing variations of the same theme from the international educators in attendance. One participant summed it up:

I'm not sure you appreciate how far along are most of the schools here today. We're far from average in terms of our implementation of technology.

When it came to my 3 minutes, I just couldn’t keep quiet about this. So I said something like the following:

One of the participants in my morning session said that I didn’t appreciate how far along you all are and that you are way above average when it comes to integrating technology into your instruction. And yet, from my conversations with many of you over the past few days, it’s very clear to me that there still are many things you’re not doing.

For example, most of you have yet to put a computer in every kid’s hands; that’s why you’re here at this 1:1 conference. Most of you have yet to incorporate online courses into your curricula in any kind of substantive way. Few of you are teaching students to be empowered – not just responsible – digital citizens in our new information landscape. Few of you have a staff full of educators that are modeling active participation in that landscape. As far as I can tell, none of you has robust student assessments at every grade level that target higher-level, more cognitively-complex thinking and doing and being. None of you has moved to a truly personalized learning environment for every student, one in which students’ progress is facilitated and perhaps assessed by technology and is organized around student competence and completion rather than age and grade level.

So some of you are sitting there in the audience feeling pretty good about yourselves. And you should. You’re blessed with wonderful financial resources, fantastic facilities, and amazing faculty. But for those of you who think I don’t appreciate how far along you are, all I can say is that I'm not sure you appreciate how far you still have to go.

Thank you.

I’m still second-guessing my decision to use my final statement in this manner. Despite tempering my negativity with a fun follow-up Animoto of the conference, I still think I might have violated one of the cardinal rules of conferences…

This likely is my final post about my trip to India. Here are my previous posts:

11 Responses to “Notes from India – I’m not sure you appreciate…”

  1. Scott,

    For context, can you comment more on your audience for the talk? How does what they are doing compare with the practices of a typical school district in the United States?


  2. Hi, Tom. Most of the international schools at the conference are providing an American-style (or perhaps European-style) education for children of overseas workers. Many of them have families that are well-educated and pretty affluent. Many of them charge very high tuition rates, which are paid by the government or corporate employer. Think of a high-end suburban school district, only with greater global awareness. I think this is a fair way to summarize these schools…

  3. Thanks for posting this. Kim Cofino told me it about what you said and how she felt like standing up and clapping. 🙂 I’m on my way to our regional conference in Manila and will be blogging about this soon. Thanks for posting and as an International Educational Technology person…’re spot on!

  4. You hit the nail on the head. If a conference is nothing but a place to get a pat on the back – what’s the point.

    Conferences should not simply highlight success, but should generate a sense of uneasiness so that attendees go back with new/more reasons to dig deeper and go further.

  5. Heah, Heah
    From someone who was there and wondered if the best one could expect would be hearing the same things in two year’s time

  6. Hi Scott,
    Thanks for the post and the closing talk! It’s exactly how we wanted our participants to feel — leave with something (actually a lot) to think about. Your Institute and those of the other speakers at the conference had already given folks a lot to consider and how far we need to go, how much work still needs to be done, and how urgently they need to start. Good conferences move us out of our comfort zones to consider new ways of doing things. Yes, they should celebrate and applaud new ways of knowing. At the same time they make us uncomfortable enough to return to our institutions with a sense of urgency for change. That sense was communicated very clearly even for our own faculty who appreciated it.

  7. It was perfect, Scott! Just what needed to be said, clearly and succinctly. I just wish more of the conference attendees had been there for that final session. Your short speech is just what schools need to re-evaluate exactly what, why and how they are doing what they think is so “far ahead.” Isn’t the purpose of a conference to get us thinking in new ways, challenge our assumptions, and push us forward? If we just constantly pat ourselves on the back for how great we already are, we’re never going to get anyway. Thank you for saying what you did. It was desperately needed. Can you do it again? And again?

  8. During the closing session, I tried to summarize each speakers 3 minutes in a tweet. Here’s what I wrote after yours: “We still have a long way to go. Ppl who were certain in their persistence are being humbled. – Scott McLeod”

    I didn’t perceive your message as negative; I saw it as a reality check. This idea seems to be permeating my thoughts a lot right now, but as soon as you become satisfied, you become complacent. As you soon as you see yourself or your school as an expert in EdTech, you lose your innovation edge. Your closing remarks is what I need to hear constantly to keep motivated. Our schools will never be perfect, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to make them so.

  9. Scott,

    What would you have the school or schools in question do? What is your vision of 1:1 computing?

    What models can you point to? What would/should children do with computers?

    Whose vision of 1:1 computing do you most support?

  10. Good question Gary. These are tall orders for schools (at any level) to fill. What does a week look like for a student? What does it look like for a teacher?

  11. Does anyone have a video clip. I had to leave a little after 4pm and missed it. The summary is good Scott, but I’d still like to see it. What we wouldn’t all give to have, “educators that are modeling active participation in that landscape…”

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