I had the opportunity last week to attend the iPad Summit in Boston, Massachusetts. Along with my HALB Edtech staff, we spent two days exploring current practice and thought in 1:1 iPad classroom use.
We spent Wednesday in the pre-conference 6 hour hands-on workshop working primarily on the apps Book Creator, Explain Everything and iMovie. The overall educational objective was to introduce us to the concept of App Smashing, which is the notion of using one App to do one activity and then to bring that end product into another app to move the project to a deeper level.
Thursday was spent in listening to a great keynote address from Heidi Hays Jacobs and then attending six -one hour sessions on various apps, strategies and pedagogy. CLICK HERE to read my notes from the sessions and to access many of the presenter’s slides.
Prior to leaving for the conference, I asked myself, do I really need to attend another edtech conference? After all, I have attended about 8 conferences in the last year and a half, was I really going gain that much?
After the experience, I can honestly say YES - I gained so much from the conference, but perhaps in some different ways than previous conferences. I did learn a few new tools, but that is not by biggest takeaway of this conference. Here are a few of the main takeaways for me:
- The most valuable lessons learned for me this week were real, specific, creative student projects. I went into each session thinking, how could our students use this app or this tool to enhance their learning? Here are a few examples that I thought were worth sharing.
- HALB Team Building - I have the fortune of working with a highly professional team of edTech integrators who continue to devote themselves to supporting our staff and to helping me integrate the latest and the best new initiatives. To add to that, we brought two teachers along who use iPads in their classes to help them broaden their perspective and skill set with iPads. The six of us had an awesome time collaborating and brainstorming how to best implement the tools we were learning about.
- Networking and exposure to well known educators - You can never get enough of this. I spent the entire day on Wednesday with teachers who had great ideas and who shared their experiences and challenges with iPads in the classroom. I had a chance to hear from Heidi Hays Jacobs of Curriculum21.com and although I had heard a similar presentation from her less than a year ago, the 2nd time was a charm; many of her ideas resonated with me in a different more practical way this time. (See link above to my notes)
- Vendors sharing the latest technology - although the list of Vendors was miniscule in comparison to other edtech conferences, I firmly believe that if I come back with one new thing that I can implement in one of our HALB divisions, then the conference was worthwhile. Honestly, I spent less than 20 minutes this week at the vendor booths, but the few minutes I spent yielded a tool that I think will be be a great asset to our preschool iPad program. I learned about a tool called Osmo, an iPad accessory which has multiple games suited for children of all ages. CLICK HERE to see how cool it is.
At the end of the day, professional learning has to be a key ingredient to every teacher's (persons) experience. In the next posting, I will talk about the single most significant professional learning skill/excersise I take part in on a weekly, if not daily basis. Can anyone guess what that is?