DENing in DC

What do sharks, avatars, and a guy named Walter all have in common? They have all presented at the DEN National Institute in Washington DC. This week, five CA DEN members have been working at the Discovery Communications headquarters in Silver Spring, MD with Star DEN teachers from all around the country. We have gotten an early summer start on jazzing up the classroom next year with presentations by Discovery Education leaders Lance Rougeux, Jannita Demian, Joe Brennan, and Steve Dembo. But it’s the ‘mandatory fun’ events that have held most teachers’ anticipation each day.

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On the second night, teams exhibited their film projects made earlier that day in the HD Theater built into the first floor. There we were thrilled to have one of the producers of Shark Week speak to us and show an exclusive sneak peek of his show, Perfect Predators. Afterwards he did a very open Q&A about the shows. As a biology teacher I was like a kid going to the firestation for the first time. Get this – he’s not just a TV producer but has a PhD and is a professor-fellow at Harvard – evidence of the quality Discovery produces.

On Wednesday, Steve Dembo shared with us a list of 10 Best Web 2.0 Sites. Definitely check those out – later I’ll share what we learned about how to search what’s new on the internet using delicious. Then we witnessed a first when Steve showed us Second Life. That was perhaps the most intriguing part of the presentations. Several DEN members from all over the country joined in on a chat from second life as we watched their ‘avatars’, or Second Life personas join us on-screen. What is Second Life you ask? Well, think of the Sims but worldwide and on the internet. Each person creates an ‘avatar’, or person, and basically lives and interacts in a virtual world. Several companies have created buildings within the world to show off their products and have virtual meetings. DEN has created a building on EduIsland II – a gathering place for educators. Every hand in the crowd went up with questions about this fascinating development. Look for a lot more to come out about this later.

So much has gone on. Wait until my next post to hear about Walter – but see if you can guess first.

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