Two very different conferences

July 15, 2007

Well life has moved on from the NECC conference, but the echos continue for me. My experiences there have certainly shaped what I hold as my norms in terms of future educational technology experiences.

My fall-back has always been “student achievement” and keeping always that the focus in any work that I do. I feel that is a valid skew, and one that I hope I never lose. To me, as long as we keep the student in mind in what we are doing, planning, talking about, and working towards then our focus will be clear. Now some folks hear me say that and act as if it is “given” and that it “goes without saying” but I beg to differ. I think we have to keep “saying it”, in fact we have to shout it to anyone who will listen.

I have been teaching Technology Camp Plug and Play in Tucson Arizona for the Arizona k12 Center this week. My class has been podcasting, where using the tools in the Mac iLife Suite, we taught teachers how to create an enhanced podcast. During this class we had excellent discussions about all of the things pertinent to podcasting, such as copywrite, fairuse, classroom management, storyboarding, tools, how tos, resources, etc. But the focus, the objective, the main outcome was for them to create a standards-based enhanced podcast they could use for their class this coming fall.

We kept the conversations back to purpose, audience, etc, all those writing tools you do when you are teaching students to create something like this. It has been a great week of learning. I am really proud of the students and their products.

This camp is focused on student learning and on giving teachers tools to enhance their classrooms with as they return in the fall, hopefully renewed and energized. Isn’t that what we do for our kids? We want them renewed and energized every time we move into the next unit or next project. We want them eager for that next fun new learning and challenge. We want them hungry for it.

That is what technology integration gives us. It helps us harness that eagerness and energy into something real-world and applicable that the students can use and will use later, as they scaffold through life. This type of conference is so valuable to teachers because it honors them as learners, and engages them in their interest area.

The NECC was energizing in a different way. I was fortunate enough to attend several classes. I learned ALOT! But with so many people and the freedom to go so many different ways, there was an energy there that was just different. It was structured, but not. You really had alot of freedom to do and roam and learn as you chose. Blogging played a big part if you were a blogger, and it will continue to shape future conferences like NECC where there are lots of sessions, lots of vendors and lots of action.

I think there is a place for both of these types of conferences. Teachers need time and space to learn how to use technology, to visualize its use in their classrooms, and to collaborate with colleagues and share ideas together on specifics. And they also need to go to the large conferences with lots of questions to answer, lots of hustle and bustle and even more people with whom to engage.

There is room for both types of conferences. And, I submit that the conferences like NECC make it necessary for conferences like Camp Plug and Play, where teachers are treated like the professionals they are and given time to learn deeply about a topic, and gain a skill they feel would enhance their classroom. The NECC type conferences are a hub for the “new” and the “upcoming” in technology integration. It is a place for folks to showcase what cool things they have been doing, what new tools are out there, and what potential is there for learning. The Learning conferences are necessary for teachers to then take their interest and go deep with it, so that they can truly effect change in their learning environments, and implement a new procedure they actually learned about.

The bottom line here is student achievement. We are all saying the same thing. And it is the well-schooled, motived, creative and engaged teacher in the classroom who will ultimately effect that achievement. Through excitement and learning, large conferences and learning conferences, that teacher in the classroom will ultimately be that change agent for the future.


One comment

  1. This is very nice and informative post. I have bookmarked your site in order to find out your post in the future.

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