Digital Doors was created as a place for me to blog and share resources that I think would be helpful for teachers integrating technology in meaningful ways in their classroom. My goal would be to write a blog post a week, but with my busy schedule, that doesn't happen. I write when I can and rely on nifty tools to help me share what I am finding when I don't have time to write.

Friday, March 15, 2013

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IntegratED: A Conference Built for Learning

IntegratED Portland 2013
By rwentechaney

I was honored to be asked to facilitate workshops at OETC’s IntegratED conference in Portland, Oregon  in February.  I’ll have to admit, that I felt really intimidated and a bit overwhelmed to be a part of such a smart and talented group of educators who had been asked to facilitate at this conference.  I knew from the beginning that this experience would challenge me and grow me and I was right.  

The conference is billed as a “boutique” edtech conference. Registration is limited to around 500 educators.  The sessions are designed to be smaller, hands on and collaborative.  Presenters are asked to  facilitate the learning, not just present.  In other words,  model good teaching practices.  

Throughout the conference, this intentionality of modeling good teaching practice, facilitating learning and collaboration and reflection were palpable. The size of the rooms, the length of the sessions, the scheduled times for reflection and collaboration, the grouping of the chairs, all spoke to the thoughtfulness of the planning of this conference.  

The conference started with an Un-Conference.  This was an opportunity for the participants to create a list of topics they wanted to share or learn about and then break into groups to have conversations about these topics.  This was a great way for participants to own their learning.  

A small number of vendors were invited to the conference.  But it was evident that the focus of the conference was not on the stuff, but on the learning.  ( I did pick up this really cool Makey Makey kit that can make bananas into a piano and I learned about a great presentation app called Haiku Deck.)  The vendors complimented the learning, they didn’t drive the learning.

I was able to attend some sessions and two great keynotes, of course, I couldn’t attend all of the sessions. But this great group of educators at the prompting of Ben Wilkoff, created a collaborative Google Doc where people shared their notes from each of the sessions.  Because of this, my learning from this conference has continued.  I went through these notes on the train ride home and have revisited several times as the document continued to grow as everyone had time to process their learning.   

My biggest stretch at this conference was participating in the Soiree of Slides.  In this event, facilitators from the conference were asked to prepare 20 slides to accompany a 5 minute talk about something they were passionate about.  Each slide would be shown for 15 seconds and then auto advance.  This felt a lot like performing and I am not a performer.  I was terrified to do this at all, but to be up against such polished and practiced presenters just about put me over the edge.  But, I did it.  I just got up there and did my best to speak from my heart.  (Which was pounding wildly.)  I was no match for Diane Main who surprised and amazed the crowd by breaking into song and dance, but I did conquer my fears and accomplish the task.  

There is much more to say about my learning at IntegratED.  Which I will share in upcoming posts, but I wanted to share my reflection on the conference set up and philosophy itself. The planning and intentionality of this conference has empowered me in my role as a professional development specialist.  IntegratED is how it is done right.  Thanks to OETC and Darren Hudgins for such a thoughtful and powerful conference.  I will be returning for sure.
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