Thursday, March 19, 2015

EdTech Summit Arizona - Google Apps For Education - 2015 Version

Today is my first day back to the office after an amazing two days at the AZ EdTech Summit featuring Google Apps For Education. I have been looking forward to this event for a long time. It certainly didn't disappoint. I laughed, got choked up, learned some things, talked to some great people, met some people from my PLN (Rodney Turner) in person for the first time, learned some more, and have been thinking about the experience since I left. I had a hard time sleeping last night because I was so excited about all I have learned.

Now it is time to try to make sense of and record (before I forget) some of what I have learned. Alas - some of those nuggets of greatness have already been lost. Maybe not forever, but at least as I write this.

This year I am going to write a top 5 list (complete with links) of what I personally found most compelling/interesting/thought-provoking. Hardly any of it will directly relate to the teaching of mathematics and may not even strike a cord with some who are reading. Instead, this is my attempt to capture some personally relevant thoughts in the hopes of passing on some inspiration.

1. "Change the World" - Juan Deluca - 
Juan closed the conference as the closing keynote speaker. He related personal experiences and his appreciation for being in the position that he is today. He is currently working on a project which will be putting devices in the hands of hundreds of thousands of students. Pretty awesome in my book. He will personally be participating in something that will affect thousands of students. His final message was that today's teachers and today's students are going to change the world. He shared some examples of what students had accomplished in his class when they were allowed to create freely without restrictions. I believe that  we need to move out of the way and let students use their creative powers to solve problems that they are interested in. Juan shared the work of a student who completed a design project of a school building that was in need of an update. The student used research, creation, and presentation techniques to create a design that was "green" and student friendly. The ideas were presented to the leadership along with ideas from the professionals. "And guess whose design was chosen?" Juan teased. "The professionals." He answered. Of course that really doesn't matter. That student probably learned more valuable skills from completing that one project than they would have learned from an entire year of lecture. These are the opportunities that not only change the lives of our students, but lead to real change in our world.

2. "Tweet Your Ideas - Or at Least Share Them" 
During the conference I was Tweeting away any takeaways or "ahas" that I was having. And to my surprise people were interested. I have received more Twitter traffic over the last two days than I have in the last year by simply using #gafesummit and sharing what I thought was interesting. It would take me years to share these thoughts if I had to do it through conversation and PD training events. My ideas have reached thousands of people. I'm sure many of these will totaly ignore my ideas and thoughts but that's not really the point. Some will make use of what I shared. This in turn may help some student who may some day "Change the World." Good enough for me.

3."Hire or Fire" - Brian Hamm 
Brain really opened my eyes to the idea of controlling your on-line presence. In the last two years I have made great strides in creating an online presence. I have a Twitter account, G+ page and Google Site along with this blog. Admittedly, they are not the greatest social media accounts, but they are a start a lot of ideas are work are displayed. The greatest take away for me was the impact that on-line presence can have. Our students do not think of the impact that an inappropriate Tweet or post can have on their future. Research Justine Sacco to see one example. On the opposite side, if students create a positive online presence it can positively impact their future. Many major colleges (if not all) are using online presence as part of the application process. Some people get hired based on their online presence. Watch the video below for an example of how this can be done. 

4. "G-docs Top 3" - Rachel Wente-Chaney

#1 Google Docs are collaborative #2 Use the "Comment and Chat features #3 Use Revision History - If you use Google Docs you probably already know about these. However, I thought it was worth sharing. Rachel also clarified for me, how I can explain to people (without overwhelming them) why Google docs are more effective than other word processors.

5. "Soul Fuel"
I really need conferences like this. At times the negativity and the mundane day to day events can cause me to loose some momentum. Conferences like EdTech AZ Summit help me regain my momentum and remind me that change is happening and there are people like me who are excited about education and what is happening. It reminds me that politicians and media don't have to be the loudest voices in education. Teachers and administrators are doing great things every day and teaching our students what is really important. What is really most important isn't always covered in a standard (not that these aren't important).

I love the EdTech AZ Summit, I love Google Apps for Education, and I love sharing what I learn with anybody that is willing to listen to me or read what I share. I can't wait fo EdTech AZ Summit 2016. Can we register yet?