March 25, 2009

IT Summit Summary

This post was last updated on September 5th, 2011 at 11:04 am

I’m just back from the IT Summit conference. In general, it was an outstanding conference in many respects.

People

Without trying to list the names of everyone, it’s apparent for most users of social media that face to face gathering times have changed in the past few years. I used to go to conferences and mingle with local colleagues and a few others I’d met a various functions and committees but there wasn’t much of a community. Now we meet people we’ve never seen and can enter in to meaningful discussion since all the banter and small talk takes place  in other spaces.

This conference brings together not only educators and administrators but also IT. I certainly commend our own IT team for focusing on students but not all do. This is a great way to have them understand that their clients are students and it’s a highly complex task to provide safe, secure environments that also enable them to have the access needed to use the tools that help them learn.

Keynotes

I’ve heard David Warlick live a couple of times but I must say this was worth seeing. David is a gifted storyteller but certainly connects to many outside of educational technology.  Carlene captured the essence of it well. It lead to many meaningful conversations and insights for many including my superintendent who said, “I know you’ve been talking about this for years but it’s finally starting to click”. What’s the phrase about being a prophet in your own town?

Being able to provide a keynote with Clarence, Kathy and Darren was truly a treat. Once I get the audio from Rob, I’ll post it but it was a privilege to facilitate these three tell their stories.

Sessions

So many of the sessions dealt with what’s best for students and how does any of this help our students learn more. The phrase “How does the technology support the practices that lead to student achievement” rang through my mind many times. I heard more praise from various sessions than I have at many conferences.

Critcisms

Nothing is perfect and there were a few things that I’d like to see change. Wireless continues to suck. Why? Last year the wireless at another venue was much better. The hotel did not have wireless so someone had to install a temporary system. It was lousy. This has got to be resolved. I would also like to see more built in opportunity to network. Not a big deal for me personally since I have many connections and can steer informal conversations to meet my needs but for many, they need a time and space to ask questions and contribute ideas.  I mentioned the idea of a “linkable” keynote. A killer opening that had many components that could be explored deeper in follow up sessions or simply building an open space style based on the ideas in the keynote and interests of the participants. Then culminating the conference with a sharing time of what was learned and what plans were made.