Saturday, February 16, 2019



Michael Wesch
"The End of Wonder in the Age of Whatever"
Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Digital Ethnography
Kansas State University
Wednesday, April 2, 9:00 am

Sponsored by 

New media and technology present us with an overwhelming bounty of tools for connection, creativity, collaboration, and knowledge creation - a true "Age of Whatever" where anything seems possible. But any enthusiasm about these remarkable possibilities is immediately tempered by that other "Age of Whatever" - an age in which people feel increasingly disconnected, disempowered, tuned out, and alienated. Such problems are especially prevalent in education, where the Internet (which must be the most remarkable creativity and collaboration machine in the history of the world) often enters our classrooms as a distraction device. It is not enough to merely deliver information in traditional fashion to make our students "knowledgeable." Nor is it enough to give them the skills to learn, making them "knowledge-able." Knowledge and skills are necessary, but not sufficient. What is needed more than ever is to inspire our students to wonder and nurture their curiosity.

Dubbed “the explainer” by Wired magazine, Michael Wesch is a cultural anthropologist exploring the effects of new media on society and culture. After two years studying the implications of writing on a remote indigenous culture in the rain forest of Papua New Guinea, he has turned his attention to the effects of social media and digital technology on global society. His videos on culture, technology, education, and information have been viewed over 20 million times, translated in over 20 languages, and are frequently featured at international film festivals and major academic conferences worldwide. Wesch has won several major awards for his work, including a Wired Magazine Rave Award, the John Culkin Award for Outstanding Praxis in Media Ecology, and he was recently named an Emerging Explorer by National Geographic. He has also won several teaching awards, including the 2008 CASE/Carnegie U.S. Professor of the Year for Doctoral and Research Universities.

Heather Staker
"How Disruptive Innovation is Changing the Way the World Learns"
Christensen Institute
Thursday, April 3, 8:30 a.m.

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Computers have been in classrooms and lecture halls for decades, but they have scarcely made a difference. Education looks basically the same as before, but with a layer of technology and complexity crammed on top, and outcomes have barely improved. Online learning, however, is breaking that pattern. It has the classic features of a disruptive innovation—the same type of innovation that killed mainframe computers, film-based photography, telegraph machines, and countless other popular technologies of the past. Disruptive innovation follows a telltale pattern that shines a light on the startling growth of online learning and what it means for Texas and the world. Get a snapshot of the size of online learning in the U.S and Texas for higher education and K-12. The question is no longer whether the disruption will happen, but how to channel it to its highest-quality potential and manage its surging growth most effectively.

Heather is one of the world’s foremost experts on K-12 blended learning. Named by Scholastic as one of the Five People to Watch in Education in 2012, her pivotal work at the Institute includes “The rise of K-12 blended learning: Profiles of emerging models,” “Classifying K-12 blended learning,” and “Is K-12 blended learning disruptive?” Other recent research topics include competency-based learning, digital learning policy, and high-speed broadband connectivity. Heather appears regularly throughout the country as a keynote speaker, workshop leader, legislative expert, and conference panelist. Prior to joining the Christensen Institute, Heather served under Governor Pete Wilson’s administration as a member of the California State Board of Education. She was a teaching fellow at Harvard College and a strategy consultant for McKinsey & Company. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and received an MBA, with distinction, from Harvard Business School. She is the mother of five pre-K and elementary school students.

Jim Brazell
"The Future is Here: Emerging Trends in Technology Relevant to Global Learning"
Friday, April 4, 11:00 am

Sponsored by 

Join technology forecaster and high technology entrepreneur Jim Brazell to learn how technologies of today reflect the future and where we are going in global education—connecting cyberspace across the disciplines, schools, geographies, and landscapes (real and virtual). Learn about the implications of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) innovation to global education in the context of family, health, energy, security, war, play, family, and life in contemporary society. A fun packed program offering a view of emerging technologies, questions across the disciplines, and engagement strategies for students with real world tools for free use online today.

A technology forecaster, Jim's message is that innovation is the key to education, workforce, and economic development goals in the 21st Century. His work in K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities includes facilitating design of grants, rigorous programs of study (RPOS), and initiatives such as school in a school, early college, workforce education pipelines, and both formal and informal curricula.

Jim is a member of the Thornburg Center for Professional Development and he is IDEAS Orlando’s STEM consultant. Jim has led public policy, leadership training, and teacher professional development in STEM for a decade. In education, workforce, and economic development, his analysis of the changing nature of work, technology trends, and regional economic development strategy have influenced public policy nationally.

In addition to speaking, Jim is a workshop facilitator focused on design and innovation. Last year he was on the IDEAS ORLANDO team responsible for both: The Dr. Philips Performing Arts Center design concept for bridging learning between the new $100 million arts complex in downtown Orlando and the online world. And, he participated in the design of public engagement strategies for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space who is now responsible for the International Space Station.

Jim got his start in the world of high technology entrepreneurship in 1987 when he moved from New Orlando to Houston to work in a start-up: Daedalus Technology with Chester Chiodo. Today, he is co-founder of,,,, and several other high tech companies. Jim lives in San Antonio, Texas with His wife Lisa and daughter Ava. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Bradley University and he is a George Gilder Fellow in High Technology and Public Policy.

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