Keeping Our Eyes on The #EdTech Horizon

We’re quickly approaching that time. The end of summer draws closer and the excitement of another school year begins. Many teachers enjoyed some relaxation as certainly did our students. Many of those same teachers also invested a lot of time and energy to learning about new ideas and technologies; whether that be attending a conference, edcamp, adding new books to their professional libraries or taking a grad class. The opportunities are, and will continue to be, plentiful.horizon

From my own experience, as well as something that can be quickly deduced by chatting with any educator interested in edtech, keeping up with it all is a never-ending challenge. We always have new tools, new devices, this movement, and that movement. To try to keep up with it all can feel like quite a daunting, yet incredibly satisfying task all at the same time.

Just like Uncle Ben told his nephew Peter, “With great power comes great responsibility.”. We now have the power to keep ourselves at the forefront of educational technology. We can connect and learn on Twitter, through reading blogs, attending face to face events, taking classes, or by just doing a quick search on YouTube. Even if we don’t have every device available or are using every tool that’s available, it’s important for teachers, as well as school/district leaders, to keep our eyes on the horizon for what’s possible. The horizon always looks far away, but it should represent a place where we want to go professionally and be a place we want to take our students to in their learning.

Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better. Pat Riley

 

I See Brilliant People – #ISTE2016 #iplza16

During the last two weeks, I had the privilege of traveling to Austin, Texas for iPadpalooza and then to Denver, Colorado for ISTE. I’ve been trying to put together a post that gives due justice to both learning experiences and more importantly the people I had the honor of being with. I think I’ve been over thinking it though. 🙂

First, let me give props to Carl Hooker. Carl invited me to be a featured speaker at iPadpalooza and it was already a conference I had been wanting to get to for some time. Everything about the conference was top-notch. Carl and his team thought of everything. It was well-organized, had both formal and informal learning experiences that were great , and they made sure there was something for everyone. I highly encourage anyone that has never been to make plans to head to Austin in 2017.

I went straight from Austin to Denver because I was attending (and presenting at) ISTE. I hardly ever go to conferences back to back like that so I made sure to build in a day in between the two conferences that was strictly for downtime (and to do laundry – Texas is hot y’all). ISTE is a behemoth of a conference; that’s no secret. If you go to ISTE as part of a team from your school or district, it’s really easy to do the “divide and conquer” thing to get a wide variety of learning experiences whether that be the poster sessions (which were awesome this year), the BYOD workshops, the concurrent sessions, and even in the exhibit hall. ISTE is a conference that everyone interested in edtech should experience at least once. If your school or district has the funds to take an entire team that’s even better.

After these conferences were over, the one predominant thought I had from all of it was, “Wow, I know some really brilliant people.”. Seriously, I brilliant peoplekeep thinking this over and over and how fortunate I am to have these people not only as professional colleagues, but I get to call many of them friends too. Such a great byproduct of networking with people online, then face to face or vice versa.

To sum it all up, I just want to express my sincere thanks. Thank you for making me a part of your network. Thank you to Carl Hooker, Don Goble, Monica Burns, April Requard, Cathy Hunt, Amy Burvall, Felix and Judy Jacomino, Wes and Shelly Fryer, Austin Kleon, Kerry Gallagher, Clara Galan, Derek McCoy, Audrey Harrison, Beth Still, Adam Bellow, all my peeps at EdTechTeam, and many many others. I appreciate the kind words and congrats about my career move. I hope I can do as good of a job of sharing that so many of you do weekly and sometimes daily. I admire all of you! I appreciate your brilliance and allowing me to learn from it.

High Quality Connections

The title of this post comes from an article I read recently called We Learn More When We Learn Together.  From the first sentence I was hooked. “We rarely grow alone.” How true that is! Education parallels anyone? It also made me think back to an older post I wrote that eventually turned into a keynote that I give that stresses the importance of spreading our genius excitedly. But I digress.

I love the idea of creating high-quality connections. It’s not the formal conference or other

https://pixabay.com/en/connections-issues-people-ideas-990699/
http://bit.ly/1JLsvLT

professional development event that makes the learning special. It’s the people we get to see, to be with, the people who “get us” that make the experience most rewarding. If you’ve been to a big education conference you might have noticed how organizations are giving more emphasis to this idea. Conferences more and more are adding networking lounges, bloggers’ cafes, etc. because of the high value in providing these spaces to cultivate high quality connections outside of the formal sessions.

We should also want the same for our students. It’s important for us to model what this looks like by crafting learning experiences involving high quality connections in our classrooms.

However, these connections have to be maintained and tended to like a garden. If we don’t properly tend to our garden everything dies and we don’t reap a crop. When I’m speaking to teachers or principals about the value of connected learning, I am always sure to remind them that they get out of it what they put into it. It doesn’t matter whether that’s online or in a face to face setting. As another busy conference season gears up for the rest of the Winter and coming Spring and Summer, make sure you see the value in making high quality connections. It may require some moving out of your comfort zone, but you’ll be glad you did it.