This past weekend I traveled to Queensbury, New York for a day of learning at EdcampUNY (upstate New York). The decision to make the trip was an easy one, after being “bullied” into it by Vicki Day (@VictoriaL_Day), Lisa Meade (@LisaMeade23), and Christina Luce (@ChristinaMLuce).
For the first time slot I split my time between makerspaces and Twitter 101. Makerspaces was valuable because I am working on getting one going in one of my schools. The session focused on the high school level, so it offered me a glimpse of where my students could be in a handful of years. Then, even though Twitter is something with which I am already familiar, it is always a pleasure to listen to other educators talk about the importance of getting connected (especially when the talk involves persuading others to get on board).
The second time slot involved a conference-wide Twitter chat, as all attendees joined #satchatwc (West Coast). I thought that this idea was rather brilliant, as it provided many Edcampers with an opportunity to join their first Twitter chat in a supportive setting. Peter DeWitt (@PeterMDeWitt) did an impressive job of walking everyone through the chat, step by step. Also, during this time I managed to earn myself a free copy of Peter’s book, Flipping Leadership Doesn’t Mean Reinventing the Wheel. Later on in the day I also got my hands on Brad Currie’s (@bradmcurrie) All Hands on Deck and Eric Sheninger’s (@E_Sheninger) Digital Leadership.
For the third time slot I joined a conversation on various Web tools and apps. A lot of the talk centered around Voxer, which is an app that essentially turns your phone into a Walkie Talkie. One of my fourth graders showed me this app about three years ago, but over the past year it has started to really gain traction in the educational technology market. That being said, I already have enough bells, whistles, dings, dongs, beeps, and meows going off on a daily basis, and the last thing I need is another form of communication. (In other words, with a little peer pressure I will probably be downloading the app sometime next week.)
For the final time slot I helped in leading a conversation on leadership along with Vicki Day and Peter DeWitt. I did my best to urge Peter to do most of the talking, so I could learn as much from him as possible. While Peter mostly spoke about flipped leadership, Vicki – an elementary school principal – focused on how she makes use of her blog in order to then maximize the time that she spends with her staff. Finally, I made sure to chip in my two cents by preaching about what I have learned in my first few months as an administrator (a whole lot, I think).
At the conclusion of the Edcamp we had an App Smackdown, in which participants took turns talking about some of their favorite “secret” tech tools. Since I use Safari as my default browser, all of the great Chrome extensions that were shown made me feel a bit left out. However, I did sneak in the chance to talk about Tweetbot, which is my go to Twitter app. (Download it now!)
Overall, this conference was intimate, well organized, and inspirational. It was undoubtedly worth the trip, and I cannot thank the organizers enough for putting it together. Now I just need to decide which one of my three new books to read first!