This has taken a week to write because honestly it was so much to take in initially – that some of the information has just sunk in and made sense. I am very glad that I got the opportunity to attend and hear some of the biggest innovators and motivators speak. It was also the first time I presented at a conference (post college) and I had a group of students present how we were using technology in the classroom. So the two days were exciting, stressful, overwhelming, disappointing, educational, motivational, inspirational, and exhausting.
Exciting: The air at the Hershey Lodge was charged. Most of it was the enthusiasm of like minded people. Having Sir Ken Robinson open up the conference on Monday was a perfect fit. He discussed how the school system needs to change. Students need to love what they do to truly be successful. Students (young and old) need to have the chance to be creative, to discover who they are.
Stressful: After watching other people unsuccessfully try to present a session without internet, we had to present Tuesday morning. The internet worked for the first 10 minutes – and not for the last 50 of the session. We had a plan B – lots of screen shots copied into a Promethean Flipchart. However, with the internet causing havoc, it caused the Flipchart to crash too. So plan C was a piece of paper and talking without any visuals. Luckily we were prepared and experts. I had no problem talking without the assistance of our Moodle site. We created a wiki to share with everyone after the fact, since Moodle was also not allowing guest access.
Overwhelming: Because there were so many people in one location trying to move between sessions at the same time, it was somewhat overwhelming. It was exciting that so many people joined together with common interests. I would have been more comfortable if I was taller and bigger. We plotted which sessions we wanted to attend and pushed our way through. It was nice that we had first, second, and third choice mapped out so we could easily adapt when a first choice was full.
Disappointing: Not having internet during a technology conference is like not having chocolate in Hershey. That was my tweet during the conference. There were many sessions that it would have been beneficial to have access to the internet. On the plus side, I did not have to carry around my heavy laptop, because it would not have mattered anyway.
Educational: I had not had previous exposure to using iPods in the classroom. I learned a lot and it has gotten me thinking. Of course, now I want to invest in an iPod Touch for personal research reasons.
Motivational: After listening to other teachers describe their struggles and successes with technology in the classroom, I was motivated to try new things. Part of the struggle of using technology is trying new things that might fail, but it is part of the process. If the technology is the right tool for the task, it would be worth trying.
Inspirational: I previously wrote that I thought the Moodle Meet Ning was the most influential one I joined, I have to amend that statement. Being part of the PETE&C Ning is going to continue the learning and discovery that was started during the conference. Having the chance to interact and communicate with other teachers is very inspirational. Already some of the conversations in the groups have provided ‘ah-ha’ moments.
Exhausting: Tuesday was a busy, busy day for me. I presented in the morning on using Moodle in a foreign language classroom and my students presented in the afternoon on using GoogleDocs and Voicethread to publish their work. The link is the Voicethread from their presentation.
This was such an awesome experience, I hope I have the chance to go back next year.