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. ūüôā

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.

Connecting the dots

'Dotted Perspective Vector Background' photo (c) 2011, Vectorportal - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

So, I’ve been trying to find the right words to express some thoughts I have about being a connected educator. We’ve got just under a week left in Connected Educator Month and I wanted to make a contribution because becoming a connected educator in various online spaces has had profound impact on my professional and personal life for nearly 4 years now (come October).

While I (and as many others have shared) get tremendous benefit to being connected every single day from Twitter, Google+, Google Reader, etc., there’s a benefit to being connected that allows me to help others. I get to help people¬†connect dots. It’s helping others become more connected. It’s connecting the connected I suppose.

This looks like me seeing someone pose a question like, “Does anyone have any ideas for how I can make communication better between school and home?”. While I don’t have direct experience with this, I might reply to them saying, “Have you talked to¬†@Joe_Mazza?”. I know that Joe has implemented many new and innovative ways he reaches out to parents to bridge the gap between school and home. I make sure that person knows Joe and reaches out to him because I know Joe is always willing to help.

Here are some other topic/subject specific connected educators that are great to learn from and are always willing to help:

Erin Klein – elementary education
Stephanie Madlinger – professional development
Bob Dillon – secondary administrator
Pernille Ripp – elementary education
Tim Gwynn – elementary tech facilitator
Chris Betcher – Google Certified Teacher
Amanda Dykes – secondary science teacher
Dave Guymon – 6th grade teacher
Scott Newcomb – mobile learning devices
Jill Bromenschenkel – ELL
Lisa Dabbs – new teacher mentoring
Jason Markey – high school principal, 1:1 initiatives

This of course is in no way an exhaustive list. There’s no ranking here. This is a handful of people I know and what they specialize in. You know folks like this too. Once we become connected educators, do we have a responsibility to help others connect? I think we do. If you’re connected and see someone needing help (whether they’re a brand new connected educator or not), I urge you to help connect some dots from time to time. Not just during August, but making it part of your commitment to being a connected educator.

If you know me, you know I love helping people and sharing the awesome things happening in districts, schools, and classrooms all over the world. I know many of you share my desire to help, whether directly or indirectly. The more connected we become, the more people we know, the more ideas we get, the more we can become better at what we do to make learning better for students.

Create, Create, Create!

I have had many a conversation about students’ ability to consume digital content vs. creating digital content. ¬†Which do you think students are better at? I’ve always leaned toward consumption over creation. They use Google, social media, and other online places to intake great amounts of information, but how often are students actually contributing something back for others to benefit from? How many times do we ask students to go grab this or that bit of information from the web or go to YouTube and watch this video or that video? Is it possible that we’re proverbially “stuck” in our education system because we don’t give our students enough opportunities to create and in turn share their creation? I’m not saying that students creating “stuff” is going to be the magic that fixes everything, but what if it could be? Should there be more of a conscious effort to give plenty of choices for our students to be creative with that information they find for this project (homework, assignment, etc.) or that project?

There’s certainly¬†no shortage of information¬†that’s produced for you and I and our students to learn from. We teach our children, students, and each other to “pay it forward” in face to face spaces, but should we do the same in online spaces too?

These are just some thoughts I had bouncing around after coming across this video: 29 Ways to Stay Creative. It’s certainly not exclusive to the digital world, it even reminds us to step away from all things digital from time to time. It just reminded me that we need to have our students see the value in creating something not only as a way to express ourselves, but possibly to the benefit of others as well.

Thank you for reading.

29 WAYS TO STAY CREATIVE from TO-FU on Vimeo.