Prospecting For Treasure

Always prospecting for the next treasure of an idea.

My First Technology Conference

This was everything I needed to attend my very 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.

August 2, 2010 - Posted by | Education, Uncategorized | , ,


  1. How cool! I’m so glad you were able to attend. I remember my first conference I attended online, it was the big life changer for me. I can see that this conference did it for you!

    Comment by Barb in Nebraska | August 2, 2010 | Reply

  2. I’m so excited for you! I too have just gotten involved with this whole online education community through the past year. I was lucky enough to attend #ISTE10 and meet many people I follow on Twitter. I do have to say though, the sessions at #rscon10 were just as good as ISTE10, if not better because I knew who the people were and knew of the passion that they had regarding the topics in which they spoke. I do hope that you can someday attend a conference in person, but these are great in the meantime. Great reflection! Get connected with because Steve Hargadon sends out emails for all the weekly webinars through Elluminate. It’s amazing how much PD is at our fingertips!!

    Comment by kristinapeters | August 2, 2010 | Reply

  3. This was my first online conference too. I do not have a pro-d budget either. I agree with everything you said and feel the same way. And they are my rock stars too!!!!

    Comment by @mmeveilleux | August 2, 2010 | Reply

  4. Barbara,
    I love when I get to sit in my pj’s in the comfort of my own home and do professional development. I spent a lot of hours this weekend learning, laughing, and sharing with my PLN members. It was a great experience.

    Almost every Saturday morning I attend Classroom 2.0 Live (11 am CDT). They use the Ellumiante platform for the session too. Each week they have a guest speaker who usually is talking about a Web 2.0 tool. Check it out.

    Comment by Paula L. Naugle | August 2, 2010 | Reply

  5. I agree. It was a fantastic experience.

    Comment by Joe Bower | August 2, 2010 | Reply

  6. Thanks, everyone! This was such a great experience that I will be checking out the Classroom 2.0 Live. I did not know that was going on. I learn something new, just about everytime I get on Twitter.

    Comment by iageode | August 2, 2010 | Reply

  7. It sounds like it was a wonderful conference–wish I’d been able to join in. Thanks for sharing the joy of PLN’s and online learning!

    Comment by Margie Rogers | August 3, 2010 | Reply

  8. Glad to hear Elluminate has helped to connect you on a more personal level with the education rock stars you admire, all from the comfort of your home. It’s also great to hear you had a positive first experience with online conferences so that you’ll be encouraged to attend and participate in more.

    If you’re interested in trying out Elluminate for yourself, you can get a free 3-person vRoom at The Elluminate web site has all kinds of resources to help you easily run live sessions, too.

    Comment by Donna Christopher | August 3, 2010 | Reply

  9. Barbara,

    It’s wonderful to hear your enthusiasm! Wanted to let you know that Elluminate has a number of great webinars each month as does our social learning community LearnCentral. Here are a couple of links for you.;demo&eef=0

    – Beth at Elluminate

    Comment by Beth | August 3, 2010 | Reply

  10. I am so glad that you enjoyed your Reform Symposium experience so much. No matter how many online conferences I attend, I am always amazed by the wealth of knowledge and experience that I can glean from my PLN. I am thrilled you attended my session and am thankful for what all of the participants offered to make it so rich. Keep learning. K-12 Online 10 will be online before you know it!

    Comment by Kelly Hines | August 3, 2010 | Reply

  11. I am so glad you had a good experience. No matter how many virtual or face-to-face sessions I attend, I am always in awe of the knowledge and experience shared by my PLN. I hope you will continue to seek out these great opportunities. Thank you for attending my session and thank you for being part of the great participants who made that session so rich, even for me.

    I hope to “see” you soon!

    Comment by Kelly Hines | August 3, 2010 | Reply

  12. Barbara,

    What a great event to stumble into! It is pretty amazing to think about how world-wide the conference was.

    Presenting was a totally different experience, for me. Hard to gauge an audience when I couldn’t see them. I’ve been thinking about what it will be like for our students who will (and do) experience this type of interaction so much more often than we have.

    Comment by Russ Goerend | August 4, 2010 | Reply

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