25 February 2015

#gafesummit Oklahoma 2015

I decided to spend some time at lunch today thinking about the things I thought about a conference this past weekend at which I was with the 'cream of the crop' of educators here in Oklahoma. It was a valuable conference and worth every penny spent on attendance. The conference was a Google Apps for Education Summit (#gafesummit)

I was privileged to attend the pre-summit which began the process of preparing me to become a certified Google Education Trainer. This was some very valuable training and helped to further conceptualize how you can integrate SO many different apps/programs/sites with GAFE.

I think initially when I thought about attending the pre-summit, I thought it would be good for some 'on-the-side' consulting work as more and more districts/schools will be moving to GAFE in the coming years. However, after attending, I realize that I have more than I can handle to get my own faculty ready to meet the coming challenges of the Digital Education Environment.

I learned some new things, such as croak.it and some more innovative uses of socrative.com. The pre-summit was a great time of thinking about the challenges we face in education with our students and how to overcome those challenges.

If you aren't a teacher, you may not know the wide variety of access many of our students (don't) have. Some students have some access at home (desktop, wireless internet, etc.), some have smartphone access only, some have both, while there are some students who have no access to the interwebs at all. One of the primary questions I have (as a teacher) is: "How do I get each of my students equal access?" (at least while they are in my classroom) As an instructional designer, that question changes slightly. Rather, how do I get my faculty to (1.) allow their students to have on-demand access? (2.) How do I help those faculty create a culture of trust for technology use in their classrooms, especially when we aren't modeling that culture of trust? (3.) What are the pre-requisite issues I need to solve/change with my faculty in order to empower them to innovate in their classrooms? In other words, just because I am not married to ANYTHING I do in the classroom, my faculty may not be quite so willing, so how do I sell innovative practice to them?

Often, when I attend conferences, I may not learn a ton of new things (beyond the new webapp or add-on for browsers), but I am pushed into thinking about my faculty and how we can move their student engagement up a notch, how to deepen their understanding of difficult concepts (through on-demand remediation) and/or how to push their students to be learners who (1) enjoy learning (2) are motivated to learn (3) and are able to see the relevancy of what they are learning. This conference really did that for me.

I had an opportunity to meet some great folks and expand my PLN, both here in Oklahoma and throughout the US. I heard some great keynotes by Holly Clark, Mark Hammons, and Lise Galuga. We thought about the adjacent possible, moved toward future-ready, and decided that an elephant is best eaten one bite at a time. Overall, the weekend was a total success.

Thanks @edtechteam for a great learning experience, thanks @bmchs1 for hosting, and thanks to @BekahHightower for your hard work in coordinating the entire thing.

One more thing, I did present a couple of sessions, but my favorite was the new presentation I did about the great work we are doing here at Canadian Valley Technology Center using Google Scripts. I had a full session so I broadcasted/recorded on YouTube so others could attend virtually.

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