I See Brilliant People – #ISTE2016 #iplza16

During the last two weeks, I had the privilegeĀ 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. šŸ™‚

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. Ā 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

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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.

Predicting The Future

October 21, 2015.

Anyone who calls themselves a movie fan of the 80s knows what this date represents. In Back to The Future Part II, “Doc” Brown and Marty McFly took a little trip to the year 2015 to rescue Marty’s future children from life altering failure. Specifically, October 21, 2015. That is today,

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which has been appropriately deemed as Back to The Future Day! I’m a huge BTTF fan as you may have already guessed. I have t-shirts, Legos, and even have a flux capacitor phone charger in my car (insert geek jokes here).

While we don’t have flying cars, hoverboards, or Nikes with power laces we do have many other pretty amazing abilities: video conferencing, wearable technology, and this little thing called the internet just to name a few . Ā It’s still amazing to me that we have the ability to take our students anywhere in the world, even if it is virtually. Learning is not limited to a classroom or even a school. It certainly is not limited to only happen during school hours either. We can connect with anyone in the world, and we can be a publisher and contributor of content for the whole world to see. These are all powerful learning abilities that were not possible 15-20 years ago.

While we don’t have our Delorean with built-in Flux Capacitor to learn what education will look like in another 5, 10, or 30 years from now, we do have some pretty incredible learning opportunities right now that can feel pretty futuristic. Are you (schools, districts, leaders, and teachers) doing everything you can to leverage these resources to bring the world to our students? Let’s make connecting and contributing to the world a priority to help create the future of education that our students deserve. 1.21 gigawatts not required.