Conversations are critical
I’ve said it before, and so have most bloggers who were there, the conversations in the hallway and at the end of the day are as critical to what you will learn at a conference as the sessions. Sometimes they are more important, because as much as we are all intrigued by shiny new tools, its our personal relationships that make them work best. This blog would be nothing without the ongoing support I get from readers. My practice relies on my relationships with students and parents (however imperfect those may sometimes be). Conversations I had outside of Brian Bridge’s session with Brian and others, helped contextualize his presentation. My conversations with others about Common Core, were my first indication of a disconnect between the implementation timeline, and fiscal reality.
Meeting new folks
I solidified some existing relationships with others, and met some new folks at the conference. I will admit that I did not have as much “quality time” with new folks as I have at past conferences (NECC 2009 in D.C. was great for this). Part of the issue was I that was staying with friends about 5 miles from the conference center, and was spending time getting to know them and their lives since they moved down to San Diego. Given the short time frame, and the large amount of information and people, something will always come up short at a conference like this. I’ll be hitting EduCampSFBay in August, and plan to dig in more deeply then.
Learning about new things
This conference, I resolved to learn more about K-12 online education. I feel like I’m at the start of that journey, and both the session I attended on the subject, and conversations I had are helping clarify some of my thinking on this subject. I’m not sure what conclusions I’ve come to, but it’s clear that this is a trend that is moving rapidly, and has already outpaced my sluggish attentions to it.
I was supposed to look for new iPad and iPod Touch applications for ELD and other ELD resources. I did not do as a good a job on that particular endeavor.
Finding out more about things that are critical to my practice
Once again, I think I was more focused on the big picture of issues like Common Core, and K-12 Online, and did not pay as much attention to applications in the classroom, etc. I look to EduCampSFBay, which will be smaller, and less structured, to fill in that gap. The timing, before I return to school, will also be helpful.
ISTE at an intersection
I feel like I’m at crossroads in my practice, and in how I did this conference. I think that ISTE itself is in a transition, and it wasn’t always pretty. The opening keynote looks stranger, and stranger as time goes by. Taped video remarks from Secretary Arne Duncan representing the forces of technology as more of the same (but pretending to be different), Sir Ken Robinson leading a panel discussion (not his forte, IMHO), and a mixed bag of panelists. It all has the feeling of the “blender” approach–throw in a bunch of stuff I like and a little I don’t and the strawberries will hid the flavor of the kale! I don’t know if it’s in its death throes, but iSTE may be past the point of pleasing all its constituencies.
Why can’t we be friends?
There is something about online and EdTech that does not always bring out the best in all of us. I heard of at least two roommate fiascoes and one Twitter-based fallout between folks who’ve known each other since back in the EdTech-day. I’m just going to say, this doesn’t seem to happen at ASCD or other types of conferences. I think getting to know each other online can put pressure on us when we do finally meet face-to-face. I also wonder if the newness, and the fact that we can build constituencies and followers outside the academy attracts a certain personality, shall we say. I may have that personality myself.
My take-away? Pick your roommates very carefully. Once you find a good conference buddy for travel or sharing a room, stick with them. My critical question is not, will they entertain me for 9 hours straight (the drive time from this conference back home), but are they comfortable with long silences that result from a trip that is that long. Even with a roommate, you’re spending all day talking to people at the conference. I really appreciate someone who is happy to just sit quietly for a bit and let it all sink in.