My First Conference
I’m horrible at keeping my blog up to date, but I wanted to touch briefly on a recent event. About two weeks ago, I attended the second annual Technology in Education conference at my graduate school, The College of Saint Rose. As someone who tries to attend many online teacher chats and follow along with live tweets from edcamps and teach meets, I was ecstatic that there was finally a local event I could attend in person!
The appearance of a tech-Ed event in our area also meant that there was a growing interest among the local communities in technology integration. There were tons of teachers in attendance, but there were also a few administrators and superintendents. I really do think that a movement like this comes from the top down. Overall, I enjoyed my first conference; it was amazing to be in a positive environment where everyone comes together to learn and share their knowledge with one another.
With that said, I also was a bit disappointed in the quality of some of the sessions I attended. Many focused on sharing lists of web20 tools, and then spent thirty minutes on how to set up accounts. Some sessions focused on devices, like student response systems, which I do not have in my classroom. ( Note to self: Next time I’ll avoid vendor-led sessions!) Something crucial was missing from these sessions and it dawned on me that we were not having the discussions that we should have. These sessions were in the novelty phase, going over how to directions instead of why we should be using them in the first place.
Another friend, also an instructional technology specialist, mentioned her disappointment on the quality of these sessions. It was just “not enough”, she said. I agreed, but then again, we both graduated from technology programs so we were already operating on different levels than the other conference attendants. These sessions were for recruitment, and we were already converted.
This experience affirmed several ideas I had. We were all looking for something new we could learn, for someone more knowledgeable on these topics. The thing is, it’s a relatively new field where you learn by trial and error, and where you learn through the experiences shared by others. If it hasn’t been shared, do it and put it out there. For example, front desk admitted there was no official hash tag for the conference on Day 1. Several friends and I created our own and passed it around. We also created a Google document where we added resources and notes from different sessions we attended. Sometimes, small actions snowball into bigger and positive change.
Next year I’m signing up for a session!