My First Technology Conference
This summer, many of the people who I follow on Twitter have attended great technology conferences. I’ve been jealous, as I’ve listened to them tweet about their experiences in Denver, Philadelphia, and lots of other places. I am a classroom teacher in Iowa. I don’t have a technology position, and although my principal is very supportive, there is no budget for me to travel to a conference.
This past weekend, I finally got the opportunity to attend my very first technology conference, and it was completely unplanned. In fact, I inadvertently wandered into my first session when I clicked on a link posted on Twitter. I found myself listening to and seeing via webcam, Terry Freedman, an educator from the United Kingdom.
That was the very first session that I attended at the 2010 Reform Symposium. This was an international conference with people from 59 countries participating. I was actually still in bed at the time, and it was possible for me to attend, because it was a free on-line conference, through the “magic” of Elluminate.
I have been exploring and using technology in my classroom for about a year now. I have tried a lot of different things in that time, but I had never seen Elluminate before. While others may take this for granted, I was so impressed by the fact that you didn’t just sit in your home and passively view these presentations, you participated in them; adding comments to the chat, voting, expressing opinions, and adding your thoughts to the whiteboard.
I attended Jerry Swiatek’s presentation, and listened to Tom Whitby and was inspired to involve my kids in sharing and teaching teachers and other students to blog and do other things we are learning to do.. On Sunday, that was reinforced by Monica Hardy and her students.
Sunday morning I got up in time to hear Kelly Hines, a teacher from North Carolina, who I have followed on Twitter for some time. Her topic was “Tech in 10″, and was full of practical quick ideas, many of which were new to me. I want to try the Fakebook, a template based on Facebook, to analyze a character or famous person from history.
She talked about using Skype to connect with classes around the world, and she opened the discussion up to questions. I raised my hand, by clicking a button, and found myself part of the conversation, when a microphone opened up to me, so I could ask my question. This all took place while I was sitting on my couch, in my nightgown, sipping a cup of tea. I was a little unnerved at the time, but that was amazing. This was one of my favorite presentations because there were so many quick easily do-able ideas to try.
Later that day, I was able to learn from Nick Provenzano, Paula White, and Tim Gwynn.
The downside to attending an on-line conference from your home, is that some sessions were interrupted by phone calls and other demands of daily life. But today I was able to begin catching up on missed sessions through the archived presentations. I’ve been able to view George Couros, Joan Young, Russ Goerend, and Nate Kogan in this manner.
The quality of the presentations was excellent. Most of the sessions that I attended had seventy to one hundred twenty people taking part. There were so many new ideas from people who are actually doing this stuff. Many of the people presenting and participating in the sessions were people I “know” from Twitter. It was fun to hear their voices, and learn more about their ideas. For me, these people are the rock stars in the use of technology in education.
Others have blogged about the high quality of the information shared, all of which is true. I am also thrilled by the sheer awesomeness of this whole experience. I am amazed that we have the technology to make this event possible. I am so impressed by the vision, imagination and tireless work and dedication of Shell Terrell, Kelly Tenkely, Jason Bedell and Christopher Rogers who organized this whole thing. It was one of the coolest things I have experienced in a long time, and right from my own living room.