2012 Annual Regional Conference

April 25-27, 2012
One Voice: Coming Together to Transform Education Whatever it takes/Wherever it leads
Radisson Plaza Hotel, Minneapolis, MN


To gather a diverse group of participants in order to broaden our reach; to unify and magnify our collective voice towards bringing about the much needed change in creating meaningful learning experiences for ALL learners in a Global Knowledge Economy.

What is the future of learning? How can we best prepare our learners for success in a Global Knowledge Economy? Where is learning happening? What role can technology play in facilitating learning? How can we implement the much needed systemic change? Who all needs to be at the table as we tackle these issues? And finally and perhaps most significantly, why is it important? These are just some of the critical questions being asked by individuals all over the globe and at all levels within the learning spectrum.

The world has changed radically and the skill sets needed by our learners to succeed in the future have expanded to include those of creativity, innovation, collaboration, curiosity, communication, and even citizenship. Mass personalization is key to tapping into the energy and joy of learning and in allowing each and every learner to progress at his/her individual pace. Leveraging technology to assess individual interests and strengths is critical to creating meaningful learning experiences that can instill a passion for lifelong learning. More and more, research is pointing to the success of design thinking, a project-based, hands-on approach that allows the learners to actively engage in the learning process itself.

If we hope to instill these attributes in our learners, then we have the opportunity and the responsibility to model these skills ourselves. Indeed we need to rethink our approach on how we conduct these conversations if we hope to effect the much needed change that is desired. To that end, the very essence of the traditional conference can and should change. In other words, we need an "UnConference" that starts with the unconventional approach of broadening the participation of those in attendance. We have a unique opportunity to include representatives of all the major stakeholder groups together to model collaboration and unify our collective voice. We need a holistic approach that breaks down the silos between K-12 and higher education. We need to include members of the business community as ultimately they will inherit the products of our educational system. We need to include those heading our colleges of education who are training our teachers, as the role of the teacher has radically changed in this new landscape. We need to include the parents for the pivotal role they play in the learning process. We need to include representatives from our design schools because of the positive results shown with a design approach to learning. We need to include our policy makers so they can more effectively craft the necessary legislation for change. Most importantly, we need to include the learners themselves as they stand to gain the most in this dialogue.

In addition to the unusual diversity of its participants, this unconference will also model collaboration and design thinking through its unconventional format. We believe that the most meaningful learning experiences include opportunities for inspiration, reflection and creation; and as such, each day of the unconference includes these components. Curtis Johnson with education|evolving and co-author of the acclaimed book Disrupting Class and Emily Pilloton author of Design Revolution are among the keynotes that will inspire us. Additionally, the schedule includes activities centered on reflection and relationship building to allow participants the time to digest the key messages and understand how they apply to them personally. And finally, the two and a half days culminate in a "Mash-up" session that invites the full range of attendees to respond to a specific design challenge that they help define.

Perhaps one of the more unique attributes of this unconference is its ability to transcend space and time. Through blogging and tweeting, the conversation begins now and will last well beyond the physical dates that are identified.

We each have a unique opportunity and a social responsibility to grow our youth and thereby grow our communities. Our learners are our future. By coming together bridging across all the different strands currently engaged in individual conversations, we will be able to more effectively broaden our reach. Moreover, we will be able to unify and magnify our collective voice towards bringing about the much needed change in creating meaningful learning experiences for All our Learners. Your voice is pivotal to the conversation. Please join us in Minneapolis/St. Paul April 25-27th for the Midwest Great Lakes Regional UnConference. By strengthening our collective voice, we can accomplish these goals and so much more. It definitely promises to be Uncommon, Unbelievable and Unforgettable!

Premier Sponsor

Cuningham Group Architecture, P.A.

Cuningham Group Architecture, P.A. (Cuningham Group®) provides architecture, interior design, urban and landscape design in places where people live, learn, worship, work, heal, plan and play. We are recognized as international leaders in school design with a strong focus on inclusive planning. Our Vision-Based Planning™ process is an academically-focused program that uses vision for learning to guide architectural design, balanced by community values. With offices in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Las Vegas, Biloxi and Seoul, Cuningham Group applies an international design repertoire to new 21st Century Learning Environments. We are honored to sponsor the 2012 Midwest Great Lakes Regional UnConference.
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