Picking up last month’s 3 week tour of Asia, I still not have finished blogging my way out of the first leg, in Yokohama, Japan, which started with 2 days of workshops and stuff at Yokohama International School. The rest of the week here was devoted to the 2013 Flat Classroom Conference, actually the event whose invitation enabled the trip in the first place.

A big huge giant thanks goes to Julie Lindsay, who runs the show; I’ve had some marginal participating over the years, and did a key last year for their online conference. I was jazzed when she asked me to come be a part of this year’s in-person conference.


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

There’s a lot to this conference to which a blog post here will likely miss major chunks. There is the conference wiki, the final video projects, a ning, and maybe 15 more parts. It’s global, and flat.

The unique thing about this conference is that teachers attend with students, something you rarely see. There was several teams from Japan, also from CHina, India, and Malaysia, plus more teachers who came on their own from as far away as Mexico. The conference mixes people together rather effectively. Then there is a whole backchannel of participants who join un virtually.

I got to do a bit of what I always enjoy at events, getting action shots of people, mostly when they do not see me taking the photo. If they pose, I genrally don’t snap the shutter…

The premise for the conference is simple, the kids are told they will work on projects to change to world. Fair enough. They are mixed together in teams between the schools and they join together so quickly you might not think they had just met. There is a lot of doing here, the bulk of the conference is spent working in groups.

I ended up missing the orientation activity, a photo scavenger hunt on the subway system. I was feeling run down from travel and felt a day of rest might help… but I ende up spending the day on prep.

More or less, after some introductions are done, the projects are set in motion, kid groups brainstorms ideas, as do faculty groups, they get a little bit of info but they did nto need much help in working together.

I assembled a bit of info into a resource on Telling a Compelling story, mixing and matching from my other workshop stuff, more of a general resource than anything

I made a second resource on Creating Compelling Digital Stories, again some mixing of content I’d been working on with some new pieces about storyboarding and planning. The wiki page also has examples of the two varieties of video stories we were asking teams to crete, either a docudrama or a PSA.

Most if not all tended to be more PSA type- doing a docudrama is actually quite a bit more involved, and lends itself more to a situation where there is time/resources to script and film.

While the student teams brainstormed, the faculty had options to attend 2 rounds of Web 2.0 Bootcamp sessions. I did one on Communicating With Images — the Upping Your Image Quotient session I did previously for YIS, plus a new one on Creating Rich Audio Soundscapes, borrowing from the Five Sound Story assignment from ds106.


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Some of the best parts were watching as the kid teams pitched their ideas to groups of faculty for feedback, but it really got interesting when the faculty teams had to pitch ideas back to the kids as judges.


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

In the next days the teams had to form a 3-4 minute rough draft of a proposal for their final project. A team judged the teams, where the top teams spend the last day producing a video about their project; the other teams got put in charge with planning the final ceremony and also assembling media to document the conference.

On the second day, I along with colleagues Eva Brown and Sharon Brown-Peters (hey, I am the only one who is not “Brown”) were asked to do 15 minute “inspirational” talks- I did a short version of Enquire Within Upon Everything – the “Big Idea” being that the open web is a big wondrous “groovy” place, but its future depends on people (like these students) caring for it, adding to it, and being vigilant about keeping the attributes that Tim Berners-Lee originally envisioned for the web.

It was stupendous to see what kinds of media message the student teams came up with- they did not need a huge amount if tech support, but more content and idea framing.

And then just like that it was over, amazing!


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

That’s Julie with conference co-planner extraordinaire, Kim Cofino.

I want to thank Kim and Julie again for inviting me, and it was great to connect again with Simon May, who reminded me we met in Shanghai in 2008 and who was also my nightly beer buddy. Plus it was fabulous to meet and work with Sharon Brown-Peters from India and Eva Brown from Winnipeg.

And at least I got a half day to wander around Tokyo, and see the cool people:


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

And poof, like that I was off to Singapore (next post)…

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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