Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ten Conference Reflections - Tech Forum 2009

Tech Forum 2009

Although educators spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to attend conferences, I find we rarely spend time to take a moment to process, reflect, share, and publish our thoughts. I recently attended Tech Forum New York 2009. I find a lot of my reflections about this conference are true about many other conferences I attend. Here they are:

1-The F-2-F connections and building of relationships with those I rarely am able to see in person. I find this more valuable than any session. It was nice talking with Chris Lehmann, Scott Meech, Dana Lawit, Lisa Thumann, Judy Salapert, Peggy Sheehy, Jesse Lubinsky, Alisa Berger, Kevin Hogan, Christine Weiser, Kristine Goldhawk, Tom Honohan, Meryl Menon, Bruce Lai, Steve Kinney, Jeff Branzburg, Laura Robitalle, Lindsay Angelo, Guy Lodico, and the Nassau BOCES folks with whom I shared lunch.
2-I appreciated that Chris Lehmann shared the message about what is really important in education. More of us need to do this. Do a twitter search for TFNY09 Lehmann to see what I'm talking about.
3-The terrific job Judy Salapert, Christine Weiser, and the T&L team did in putting together a very well-organized conference.
4-I enjoyed that the conference was a focused intimate conference rather than the overwhelming experience I encounter at conferences like NECC.
5-2-Extending the learning and making meaning by Tweeting, FB-ing and seeing who my fellow tweeters and FBers are. In a tech conference this size more of us should be in these worlds. We need to make meaning beyond ourselves and become active participants reflecting and sharing with our learning networks.

It was nice learning with both those who were learning with me at the conference and those who were remote doing what @worblehat has coined Twelurking (Twitter lurking). Enjoyed tweets and RTs with/from @briancsmith, @PeggySheehy, @sammorra, @mjelson, @lthumann, @roblyons, @stevekinney, @worblehat, @actionhero, @letkidsplay.

Most popular RTs:
RT @InnovativeEdu: The main purpose of schools is to teach kids to ask powerful questions and teach them to find the answers. -Chris Lehmann
RT @InnovativeEdu: Principal Chris Lehmann says his job & his staff is to build students that are Thoughtful, Wise , Passionate, Kind TFNY09

Enjoyed FB-ing with Robb Ross, Myrielle Badio, Danita Cobble Russell, Maria DeSimone, Steve Kinney, John Clemente, Jacob Gutnicki, Samantha Stouber, Leslie Schecht, Rick Toone, Lindsay Angelo, Mike Columbia, Diamond St. Thomas, Suzanne Montaperto, and anyone I missed.

Most popular Status Updates:
Lisa Velmer Nielsen
Advice to ALL presenters. Don't assume audience members are or will be parents. It's offensive to the people for whom that is not true. View all 11 comments
Lisa Velmer Nielsen
What is the role of the teacher in the age of Google? Our job is not to teach CONTENT, it is to teach WISDOM. -Chris Lehmann TFNY09 View all 14 comments

1-Start 1 hour later and I'll yawn much less. We boarded a bus at 6 a.m. and arrived before 7.
2-Presenters: Use real examples.
3-Vendors: if you talk about your great product you should figure out how to incorporate and/or demonstrate it in your presentation. No excuses. If you can't bother to figure out how to do this, I can't be bothered to listen to you.
4-Please, please stop talking at us. Use innovative tools to make your presentation interactive.
5-Don't talk about differentiation and think you do not have to differentiate. You do!

Coolest Free Tech Tool That I Hadn't Heard of Award Goes to...
No more forgotten parking lots. No more having to type notes from post-its placed on chart paper. Hurray for Wallwisher. It is an online NOTICE BOARD maker. Ideal for making announcements, wishing people, keeping notes, and basically anything you can do with Post its. No download, software or registration required.
-Thank you Patrick Higgins

Coolest Expensive Tech Tool that I Hadn't Heard of Award Goes to...
Saywire is a Facebook-like intranet. It provides a closed and safe Facebook. Write, publish, plan, organize, collaborate. $6 per student
-Thank you Peggy Sheehy

Have you attended a Tech Forum? What did you take away?


  1. I also liked the smaller, more personal, conference setting and appreciated the chance to meet face to face with others and exchange ideas and thoughts. What bothers me is that most of the presentations still tend to be in the same method we are preaching against – lecture with very little hands on. Presenters need to model using these tools with their audience, not just talking about the tools. Finally, it is crucial that presenters show real world examples of how these tools are used.

    Two important ideas I walked away with are: 1) it is very important to provide ways for students to participate in learning experiences while providing social experiences at the same time. Students are craving social experiences and we have systematically taken that away from them. 2) Technology is not just a tool. It is way more than that. It is an environment, something we are immersed in during our daily activities when we are researching, collaborating, networking, and presenting. This needs to be how our school environment is structured if we want to engage and not lose our students.

  2. Carolyn, such great insights. Thank you for sharing. I really liked your two big ideas and I think we need to talk about that more. Regarding your first idea, I agree. I think we need to ask educators why they isolate kids in middle/high school when we know they are such social creatures? Let's embrace and use that energy to help them find their passions, developing burning questions, explore, learn, create.

    As for your second big idea. Right on. I just wrote a post sharing with schools some ideas around how to do this.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and ideas.

  3. Kim Cofino had an excellent blog post last May about "technology as an environment" and not just a tool (

    In it she said a tool is something to use when it suits you, something you control, something don’t need or want around at all times – only when it’s necessary and something small, manipulated by the user.

    On the other hand, an environment is something that’s all around you and in use all the time, something you can't directly manipulate or control, something that's necessary to live and ubiquitous (like air), something you are immersed in, even if you’re not specifically thinking about it or intentionally using it.

    Extremely few classrooms are yet at the environment point, even as offices and we as professionals are.