We had a good chat on the walk back to the Hotel. Specifically, we chatted about the Panel Discussion at ISTE2012 Conference.

Here is a snippet of that conversation. But first an overview:

The Panel was comprised of Sir Kenneth Robinson, Shawn Covell, Marc Prensky, and Mayim Bialik.

Sir Kenneth Robinson is very polished and graceful on stage. He was definitely selling his book, but was funny and engaging. He talked about how he was told Americans don’t get irony. That isn’t true, he said. After all, we have No Child Left Behind. Whoever named that sure understood irony. He also talked about how we can’t afford to not make changes to education.

Shawn Covell was representing QualComm. She is a political representative for them. Her role was really representing QualComm and their upcoming conference. Predictably, her focus was completely on wireless access and mobile devices.

Marc Prensky was pretty good. He is more of a futurist than truly an educator. His information was interesting to think about. He talked about Passion and it’s importance. He also talked about focusing on the kids.

Dr. Mayim Bialik talked about a tutor that she had that made a difference in her life. Her parents were teachers. It wasn’t until she was 15 that she learned that she loved science. She talked about how she is representing Texas Instruments here. She talked a little about being a teacher in the “Home school” community.

Our conversation on the way home:
A) way too much “commercial” conversation. The QualComm representative isn’t to be blamed. That is basically her role. Why ISTE chose to put her on stage is another question.
B) Dr. Bialik was disappointing. She never talked about her role/experience as a neuroscientist. Rather, at one point, she said “there are probably people in the audience more qualified than I am to answer”… In fact, she repeated this a couple of times. Marc Prensky was asked a question about the effect of “screens” on the development of the brain. He answered and then threw it over to “the neuroscientist”. She completely passed.
C) Marc Prensky also brought up the idea of the 15% of kids who are successful in school and will be despite/ in spite of the educational system. What about the other 85%, he asked.
This led to a rich discussion on the walk. Dr. Bialik was on stage, in front of 13,000 educators. Her experience was abnormal (in the sense that it was not normal). She is currently involved with home school kids. Are these part of the 15%? Are these kids who really don’t need any change in the system? How does this impact the 85%?

We also chatted about the effect that business and the business model has had on education. That discussion will have to wait.

Overall, it was a disappointing Keynote. Sir Kenneth Robinson was good. However, there was a way, way long commercial for ISTE at the beginning. The panel discussion didn’t work. Had the panel been comprised of Sir Ken, Marc Prensky and a couple more educators, it may have been fruitful. However, as it was, two of the panel members just couldn’t contribute much.

Ah, well. Here’s hoping the sessions are effective tomorrow.