Ok, I'm going to attempt to finish my reflections from the CUE 16 Palm Springs Convention. This is not easy you see because, I've been stalling since there was just so much that happened. I'm actually trying to use the voice typing feature in Google Docs to help me so please forgive me if a little this is pretty disjointed.
This was my second year attending this conference. This year I went down with a contingency of Educators from my school district and for most of them it was their first time going to 2. I think by the time that we left their minds were filled to the brim with both ideas and inspiration. And I hope that as they return to their sites that they're able to have some of this magic rub off on the people they encounter.
The first wow factor that we experienced, as you can see in this photo, was our house that we rented. I guess it was a good thing that all the hotels were booked because we ended up having to rent a house and ended up with what we thought was like a mini resort. We're definitely going to go down this road again next year.
My agenda for this conference was twofold; one, I had to present at several different sessions and the other was to really try to connect with so many of my head ed tech friends whom I've met and many whom I've never met in person. That I think is probably the greatest walk away that I had from this conference - the relationships. Of the two sessions that I presented one was early in the conference and the other was the last session before of the conference. My first session was on the LMS platform Schoology that I got to present with my friend and co-worker Bill Kimmel. We had a much larger than expected room and the session went fantastic! We had a fair amount of people who have never seen this program before and were pretty new to the whole idea about how an LMS can be a new way of looking at how teachers interact with their students and parents at home. We finished by playing a Kahoot game which got them excited inspired and even was able to give away 5 t-shirts courtesy of the folks at the Schoology booth thanks!
Between the two sessions that I presented, I spent the rest of the time attending other sessions and having conversations with so many people. I actually spent very little time walking the exhibit floor it so I was unable to really get an idea of what sort of new technologies and services are really being pushed by the exhibitors.
I tried to capture many of the moments of CUE16 by interviewing people in between sessions for the podcast “Check This Out” which my friend, Brian Briggs, and I co-host. The driving question which we posed everyone was what was one thing they will walk away with or what we call their “Check This Out” moment.
For some, these take away moments were tools. But unlike in years past, where there were single or stand alone tools which blew people away, it seemed like that there was more of a focus on USING tools to complement best teaching practices. Roland Aichele for example shared how students would complete a Google Form describes the scenery of a game while it was being played live in real time.
Now there were plenty of new tools and platforms to check out as well. 3D printers from NewMatter were interesting to some; kytelearning.com which is self-paced, video lessons was recommended by Wayne Stagnaro.
Cate Tolnai shared out the success that many had with badging and educators finding their people to connect with groups like #connectedTL and #TOSAchat
Quite a few mentioned how much they really liked the Steampunk Playground where they got to play with tools and devices. The Tech TOSA team of Tom and Michael from Basset CA commented on many of “toys” that they got to try themselves like Dot and Dash and the rolling Telepresence iPad. These guys also provided me with one of my favorite moments of the entire trip. You see they are new to the podcasting world, much like Briggs and I are and we connected and gave shout outs to each other via social media and both our podcasts. So when I met them in person for them first time they provided me with a microphone flag which they made for me with name and the podcast. I was very touched! Thank you two!
But it really wasn’t tools or practices that seemed to have the biggest impact with the people I chatted with. What I heard many times over was the theme of connections. They would refer to this in ways like “it’s the people” or “finding my tribe” or “#bettertogether”. It seemed that so many just really found the power of connecting with people to be the most rewarding. For example, Hans Tullman was moved by Lisa Highfill’s “Educate, Inspire & Engage”.
This movement started with the empowering message from the opening keynote of Brad Montague & Kid President which drove forward that kids & grown ups can change the world.
And speaking of podcasting I got to do a little stalking and get some selfies with some of my favorite podcasters whom I listen to. My biggest catch may have been the one and only Mary Jo Madda from the Ed Surge podcast whom I think I bullied into having her on my show one day. Oh Mary Jo… I am holding you to that promise you made!
For me these connections continued into the evenings. For each of the three nights I was able to talk tech, plan on changing the world and have fun. Thank you to “Jedi Juice” for helping make all of these are little more fun. (Jedi Juice has the look and consistency of Coors light for those of you new to this term)
Some of those nights consisted in staying at our mini-resort and hearing my my team from Rocklin Unified. We bonded and friendships were both created and made stronger. Thank you RUSD!
Other nights had me at the Village Pub with our Cap CUE team hosting our local affiliate get together and also at the event of the conference Karaoke! (also from here on out referred to as KaraoCUE). Some of us moderators of the #connectedTL team were tasked with running this gig and we relished every minute of it. Although the Jedi Juice as a little pricey, we still were able to and dance the night away. Some of the highlights were the Conga Line, a killer Britney Spears performance, the entire place singing Don’t Stop Believing and of course my favorite Country Roads which you can a little of here.
The end of the conference wrapped up with Briggs wearing wigs and chatting about all things Podcasting and audio projects. Although it was the final session we had a strong group attend and we felt like the group got a dose of what this medium is and how they may want to try it in their own settings.
Like any trip, the learning and sharing happens everywhere. My last moments were filled with giving iMovie and Stop Motion tutorials on the plane back home to some from my RUSD team and then one of the funniest moments of the trip. This was realization that I was on the same plane as a team of teachers from Gridley CA. These teachers had my co-host Briggs and CUE provide PD for them several months before. Needless to say they are HUGE Briggs fans and when I got off the plan in Sacramento they were waiting for me with cheers, stickers and wanting a selfie just because I knew “The Brian Briggs”! My own team from RUSD laughed and we all had one last crazy moment to end CUE 16.
So that was CUE for me. It was not about the Tech… it was about the People. Those people who were in the sessions, in the hallways, and yes, even at Karaoke!
Thanks to all whom I was able to connect with and looking forward to many connections in the future!