Boston 140 Conference – No Longer Going to Accept the Status Quo

140 Conference in Boston

Kirsten Olson, Jeff Pulver, Pat Larkin and myself at the #140conf in Boston

I had the distinct pleasure to lend my voice to the #140 Character Conference in Boston today.  I sat on a panel with my very good friend Patrick Larkin, and my newest friend, Kirsten Olson.  Our panel discussion was entitled, Real Time Education – more on that later, for now, I want to spend some time reflecting on the #140 conference.

Jeff Pulver is the organizer of the #140 conferences.  While his impact on the role on the use of the internet for both voice and video communication is too vast to describe here (learn more here and here) I really admire the work he is doing with the #140 conferences (click here to see Jeff explain the #140 conference himself).  According to the conference website, “the #140conf events provide a platform for the worldwide twitter community to: listen, connect, share and engage with each other, while collectively exploring the effects of the emerging real-time internet on business.”  The conference brings together individuals from a variety of backgrounds and business sectors.  But, the most exciting part (to me) is that Jeff is not shy at all about the message of education reform so he insists on having educators present at every conference.  The result is that in a room full of celebrities, CEO’s, entrepreneurs and social media gurus, educators are given equal status.  Many thanks to Jeff for cultivating that.

Those of you know me, know that I value Pat Larkin’s friendship and collegiality greatly.  What many people don’t know is that our children attend school together and, in fact, he was my son’s first basketball coach.  Yet, we didn’t know each other beyond the acquaintance level until Pat reached out to me on Twitter with the following tweet:  “@baldy7 Hey we know each other I live in Stratham and our kids go to school together. I am a principal in Massachusetts.”  Since that tweet, Pat and I have become close friends, trusted colleagues and have worked in concert to cultivate two interwoven PLNs.

Which led to the opportunity today for me to meet Kirsten OlsonShelley Terrell works more closely with Patrick than me, so when the #140 conference was looking to put together its Boston Educator Panel, it was through my connection with Pat that Shelley extended an invitation to me.  Kirsten is an author, consultant and author of the book Wounded by School.

My point with both of these stories that is that whether by tweet or through my network, opportunities arise to make connections with others and I am so glad that I chose to make the connections that I did.

Our story was simple, one that many of us who think and write about the shifts needed in education tell and hear all the time; the need to shift away from the traditional, institutional model of schooling to a more connected, personalized approach. Our story today, however wasn’t being told to educators- some of whom may be too entrenched in the institutional model of education to see another way.  Instead, it was being told to celebrities, CEO’s, entrepreneurs and social media gurus who also happen to be mothers and fathers. So, when we told them not to stand for the status quo, to demand more from their childrens’ school, they knew exactly what we meant.

Why? Because they know that their jobs don’t employ old, tired strategies. They know that their jobs require them to collaborate, problem solve and redevelop. They know that their jobs demand they find, vet, assimilate and create new information, and they know that their kids are not being taught how to do those things in their school.

Ironically, I’ve been struggling lately with balancing my role as a parent with my beliefs as an educational leader. Both Will Richardson and Alec Couros have shared similar stories as of late. But as I sat on the panel today, asking the several hundred parents in auditorium to not accept the status quo, I realized that I needed to listen to my own advice and do the same.

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26 Responses to Boston 140 Conference – No Longer Going to Accept the Status Quo

  1. You were incredible yesterday, especially as you described the transformation that needs to occur in education not just as technical but cultural. At its heart, this is about changing the fundamental relationship between the knower and the known in schools.

    As the parent of four children, I’ve been struggling in our own journeys in public schools for almost two decades. One of my children asked me recently, “Why didn’t you homeschool us?” My answer is that we have to keep working in PUBLIC schools, pushing and prodding and often really pissing people off, because it matters so much. You are now a tremendously valued colleague, and I look forward to learning from you and talking more. The #140 Conference really did rock. Jeff Pulver has quite a genius view…

    • tbaldasaro says:


      Thanks for your comments. The reason this shift is so difficult is that it is a cultural shift and not a technical one. If it was simply technology, we could fix that relatively easily. But shifting cultures includes individual shifts in pedagogy, tribal shifts in practice and community shifts in acceptance. That’s why we need parents to step up and demand more from their child’s school.

  2. Great post and I look forward to hearing the audio of this panel discussion. I really like your point about the simplicity of connecting via twitter. In fact, it is nothing new. It is simply a conversation between people via a platform. We’ve all been tweeting for years, but we never knew it. Conversations and debates in classrooms are ubiquitous, yet there is no problem with that in schools. There is no point in dismissing something simply because it is new. We need to focus on the good of new media in schools and really begin to put a positive spin on dynamic learning. Allow ubiquitous (second use, I apologize for lack of dynamic vocabulary) access so that kids can learn in a responsible environment. We are not talking about monumental change, just simply taking something we have been doing for years and evolving the process.

    Again, great post and congrats to you and Patrick on a great panel discussion yesterday.

  3. We really need to convert the parents, you know the taxpayers, the ones we work for (in their minds) as public employees. As long as the people paying our salaries are in love with grades and MCAS and “standards” we will never see real change. Our unions are not getting the job done–we need our own PAC maybe. It is very difficult in 180 days and 990 hours to serve 2 masters, both what the public wants and what the students need. This is why we have the current, disjointed state of affairs in education.

    Last night I had the pleasure of listening to my daughter’s 4th grade teacher at open house. She is clearly passionate, loves the children, recognizes their individual gifts, encourages risk taking and collaboration. Her students blog. Her students engage in the political process by calling and writing legislators. I could go on and on. I was actually tearing up just listening to her, the message was so beautiful. But when it came time for Q +A the only thing parents wanted to know was why there would be no letter grades and why the parents weren’t given answer sheets to help students with homework. The beautiful message was so completely lost on them.

  4. Tony,

    Thanks for the post. As always, I appreciate your insights related to our work in schools. I am looking forward to talking to you about how we can constructively move forward with the conversation in the SAU where our children are students. I agree that we need to start doing a better job modeling our beliefs.


  5. Akash Patel says:

    This conference was very interesting. I liked the idea that the technology upgrades are not just technical, but cultural. It’s interesting to think of an advancement in our school as a cultural change because most people don’t view it this way. Schools have been run the same way for a long time and it really is our culture, but changing it won’t be easy. Getting the latest technological gadgets is easy, but changing culture is hard.

  6. Matt Ackerman says:

    Great job yesterday saw you on the online streaming. You made some very good points on the blog. I am in Mr. Larkin’s Web 2.0 class

  7. Liam Noone says:

    I am a student at BHS, and I agree with the concept of getting educated while using today’s technology. I think it is great that we are changing the way we learn in school.

  8. Jillian Mazure says:

    I agree that twitter helps you meet new people and connect with people that are from different states. It really could help schools if we could connect with other towns and cities to try to get an idea of what they are learning and we could discuss what we think is good and bad for the school systems. I think the conference yesterday let everyone express their ideas and what it was like from their perspective.

  9. Erin D says:

    I agree with the fact that schools need to start teaching tecnology social startagies to help kids get prepared for their carreers which are going to involve problem solving and collaborating.

  10. Brandon Kelley says:

    Good job yesterday streaming. You made very good points on the blog. I’m in Mr.Larkin’s web 2.0 class.

  11. Gio Faria says:

    Im a student at BHS and I agree that the school should start using technology. Using all this technology would bring all the students closer.

  12. Amanda Brooks says:

    Reading all of this shows me that it’s a good thing to work together as a group. Mr. Larkin and friends got alot accomplished. If their goal was to have their voices be heard then their goal was well met. I congrat them all for doing their best to try to make schools these day a much more enjoyable and informing experience.

  13. Ashley Alexander says:

    I think that the 140 conference was great to get ideas across about using technology in schools for education. Schools have been the same for a long time. Its time to teach using different tools and methods that are more interacting. I think that using laptops and other technology would be very effective for learning.

  14. I really liked the conference yesterday Mr. Larkin is doing a great job I love this new “revolution” in school this transformations really needs to occur and spread to the world so us students would learn a lot more. I know that their is a lot of bad stuff in the net but there is a lot of good connections that help us students to learn more and more every day. Lets make this happen, and again congrats Mr. Larkin!

  15. Dan McMahon says:

    I am a student at Burlington High School, MA, and tuned into the conference. I was thrilled that educators were present at the conference to promote the idea of new internet and technology being incorporated into education. I believe that the internet is the future and to start learning how to utilize it at it’s full potential at a young age will place students far ahead of the “game,” when they enter the “real world.” To be able to use modern internet and technologies in your life is an extreme advantage and am glad that it is finally receiving the acknowledgement it has long awaited.

  16. Kayla Sheldon says:

    I watched the 140 conference in class yesterday. I really enjoyed listening to what everyone had to say, even my principal of Burlington High School.

  17. Michelle says:

    The whole conference was very interesting and eye opening. In particular, I think it is amazing what the internet, social networks in particular, can do and what people can discover. Finding someone with the same interests and goals, then to discover your children go to school together is just fascinating. The good technology can do can definetly overcome the negative light that people put on it.

  18. Kerry says:

    I agree and think that we really should try to shift and fix the system f the school. Education needs to be looked at in a different way. Like you said, we should try to move away from the usual way of schooling and educating and get connected and learn in a different way.

  19. Jackson manamel says:

    i like the third paragraph because it say that ” we know each other I live in Stratham and our kids go to school together. I am a principal in Massachusetts.” Since that tweet, Pat and I have become close friends, trusted colleagues and have worked in concert to cultivate two interwoven PLNs”

  20. Kevin Romulus says:

    i thought this article was pretty interesting

  21. i thought this article was pretty interesting.

  22. jason Tarpey says:

    Online learning looks to be a major improvement in the educational world. in the on coming years.

  23. Mike Sweeney says:

    I find this every helpful with what you are tryingto do to the learning in schools

  24. Shelly Sanchez Terrell says:

    What a beautiful post! I recently wrote about the issue you mentioned. I think we shouldn’t accept the status quo as you state. Our profession is better than for us to just accept things because we don’t want to offend. I have parents offend me everyday but at some point after I get over myself I sit and reflect on their accusations. Often, I try to make some adjustment that doesn’t compromise the learning that takes place.

    Thank you for your wonderful moderation of the panel as well and for being a part of it! It is definitely wonderful to be part of an educator community full of passionate people!

  25. Pingback: Powerful Learning Practice, LLC » Blog Archive » Making Connections at #140

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