' I am entirely certain that twenty years from now we will look back at education as it is practiced in most schools today and wonder how we could have tolerated anything so primitive.' John W Gardner
I am thrilled to be able to share an exciting project that I am working on. On July 25 and 26 a very special event is going to happen in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Teachers are going to have the opportunity to attend an educational technology conference where they can learn, share, and network with some pretty amazing people. (And yes–I mean AMAZING!)
Before I share more details let me take a moment to explain how this came together. I teach community education classes that focus on social media for Western Nebraska Community College. I was recently approached about the possibility of teaching a class or two this summer. I have wanted to teach a technology class for teachers for very long time, but never had the opportunity. I realized that if I had a co-teacher we could expand enrollment and reach more teachers. I put out a tweet asking if anyone would like to help me. Since I live in the boonies (see map) I didn’t think I’d have too many replies, but I was wrong!
Cindy Lane was one of the first to reply. I have know Cindy on Twitter for quite sometime, but just had the pleasure of meeting her at ISTE in Philadelphia over the summer. She is an educator and presenter from Missouri. She was the first teacher from Missouri to become Google Certified! Cindy’s enthusiasm is second to none! Tim Gwynn is a technology facilitator from North Carolina. Tim has been part of my personal learning network for a couple of years. If you follow Tim on Twitter you already know why I cannot wait to introduce him to teachers in my region. I managed to get another educator from North Carolina to agree to make the trek to Nebraska this summer. Steven Anderson will be presenting at this conference, too! Steven is passionate about helping teachers learn how to network. I have invited a fourth person to present and I am still waiting for his final confirmation. (Hopefully this blog will be just the right amount of pressure to get him to commit!)
This conference is scheduled for July 25 and 26. It will be held at the Harms Advanced Technology Center which co-owned by WNCC and ESU13. This conference would not even be possible without the support of WNCC, ESu13, and the Nebraska Department of Education. These agencies are providing building space, personnel, and support in the form of marketing and promotion. Because of their support the cost of the conference will be very low. The cost to attend will be around $70 for two days. This is a great deal considering this price will include breakfast, lunch, and light snacks for both days.
The schedule has not been set yet, but tentatively we are planning on having four sessions that each focus on a different aspect of how teachers can utilize technology. The sessions will cover topics such as how to use digital tools to get organized, connect with other educators in order to share and learn, and how to engage students. There will also be a few special focus discussions that will be facilitated by the presenters that focus on hot topics in the world of education.
This conference will showcase different tools, but the focus will be on the skills behind them, not on the tools themselves. For example, a presenter might introduce wikis during their session. They will not spend time showing how to use the tool, but rather share examples of how they are being used at a particular grade level or in a specific content area. Attendees will be organized into groups based on grade level so the examples used in each session will be customized to fit that particular group. Many times educators walk away from conferences feeling overwhelmed and with the sense they have no idea where to begin. This conference will be different. We will lay the foundation to help all participants walk away with a clear idea of where they can start and a plan for how to make their ideas happen.
Another aspect that will make this conference unique is the emphasis that will be placed on helping teachers network before the conference and then stay connected afterwards. It is critical for teachers to know they have a support network in place. The conference website will provide the scaffolding to build this network. Tricia Parker, a wonderful friend of mine who works for NDE is also going to help with this connection piece. One of her projects is to get teachers involved in writing lesson plans to add to the Nebraska Standards Instructional Tool.
The goal is to get 100 teachers registered for this conference. While most teachers will probably be from western Nebraska we hope to attract some from Colorado and Wyoming, too. Registration details will be coming soon! In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments please leave them here.