Friday, October 23, 2015

#TLTechLive - What Worked + Conference Takeaways

Today marks the conclusion of another terrific live event hosted by Tech & Learning magazine. From the keynote to the breakout sessions, this year was marked by more opportunities for engagement among participants. One person put it this way: It was great not to be "talked at" by experts but rather have the opportunity to "talk with" experts and other attendees.  The day was more about conversations than about having knowledge imparted onto the attendees. The approached worked well. It seemed participants had more of an opportunity to make meaning and build relationships.

Karen Blumberg kicked off the day with a keynote that provided a conversational climate. She posed questions to the audience that enabled attendees to get to know each other and see the expertise in the room. The keynote entitled, "Our PLNs, Ourselves" was a play on her childhood favorite "Our Bodies, Ourselves." The book advised women to claim their sexuality for their own pleasure. Blumberg's talk advised listeners to claim their professional learning networks (PLNs) for their own learning and to share that learning with others.  She asked the audience to think about who has influenced them and how they could positively influence others. "Don't just be a sponge soaking up knowledge from others," she advised. "Also, think about how you can contribute to learning for others."

The breakout sessions consisted of a few influencers in various areas who introduced themselves, then had a dialogue with those who choose their session.  Our session was, "You've got devices. Now what?" Once each of the three panelists gave a brief background, the audience and panelists engaged in a dialogue.  After the session, a participant shared this with me. In two minutes, you answered my one question in a way that will transform and inform how we spend our districts multi-million dollar smart bond grant.  I shared 3 lessons learned from tech deployments:
  1. Teachers before students. When you roll out tech, ensure you give teachers an opportunity to learn about and use the tech, before you provide it to the students. 
  2. Don't require. Inspire. Do not require all teachers to accept and use the technology. Start with the teachers who are most excited. Ask teachers to write short and sensible proposals about how they want to use the tech. Empower those teachers to help guide others along. 
  3. If you deploy to grade levels, start with the older students. If you start with lower grades the upper grades will resent that they never had the opportunity to have access to the tech. If you start with the upper grades, the lower grades will be excited about what they have to look forward to. 
You can read more about what I shared here.   

Next I attended a breakout session on effective professional learning strategies, where I had my most popular Tweet of the day.  
After that I joined the leader's lunch which was a large round table conversation. The big take away from the lunch was the way to inspire teachers is not to impose mandates, but to expose them to opportunities and let them run with and grow what works from the bottom up. For most districts, Google Apps for Ed in general and Google Classroom in particular were what teachers were excited about and organizing learning around this year.

I ended the day with the "Anything Goes" session.  I joined Chris Casal's conversation about why social media was an imperative in school today.  There was a lot of valuable information packed into that short session. Follow him at @Mr_Casal to get great ideas about how social media can be used to build and strengthen the school community. For those concerned about getting administrators on board, he shared information on how to explain how social media meets the standards. You can see the standards address as well as an article that elaborates on this in the following Tweet.
While the face-to-face conversations were flowing, the conference didn't just leave an impression on the attendees at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown.  With social media, you don't have to attend events as long as those attending the events share with others and that they did.  The online reporting reached 541,519 people and left more than 2 million impressions.

Check out the recap below thanks to 145 social media users who shared what they learned.  

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