NETA 2009 opened with a great start. We have new digs, more people, yet some of the same problems (wireless seemed better as the days went on...crossing our fingers...honestly, we knew we'd be pushing the Embassy). Even with more people, the less-spread-out-venue didn't seem ridiculously crowded and the workshops at Cabela's were, I was told, pretty well attended.I was very happy to hear Hall Davidson's (of Discovery Ed fame) talk about the big world getting smaller during his opening keynote (...no, I didn't chat with him about being a Star DEN...chickened out). He spent some time talking about how easy connecting is made with tools like Skype, VoiceThread, etc. (things we've discussed previously here and here). A lot of things that he talked about I wanted to echo in my session, but I didn't want to be accused of plagiarism. :)
The majority of my afternoon was spent in one of the new NETA Conference
features that I helped set up: The Bloggers' Cafe.
Along with Michelle and Deanna, we had seen how great the Cafe's were at NECC and METC. So we thought we'd try it out! The NETA Board and Embassy staff has been great about getting us whatever we ask for. While we were initially disappointed that we weren't up with the majority of the other rooms, we were very happy with the turnout. We had people come in just to get away from the commotion, work on future presentations and even learn more about blogging and micro blogging. One of the highlights for me was the ability to sit in a relaxed atmosphere with people who I had become friends with via Twitter. Between the emergence of the coreydahlevent and our well-attended Tweet Up, I noticed a common theme: This conference isn't about us. It's about finding out what everyone else is doing so that we can improve the teaching and learning in our classrooms. It's about forming relationships with very intelligent, creative people. During the Tweet Up, I looked around the table and thought about who I'd conversed with there on Day 1: Lori, Katie, Beth (via Skype), Michelle, Deanna, Jason, Dale, Barb, Corey, Tim, Chris. These people get it. They understand what it means to integrate technology to improve instruction. I don't know if it's the age I am (yeah, just hit the big 3-0). I don't know if I'm just growing into my new position as instructional facilitator and NETA Board member. But I looked at those people at the table and thought about others I'd seen engaged in the learning process. I see people at NETA who could step up and make a change in our state. I see people that I can grow from and push to increase their own learning. I see people who still have roadblocks in front of them. We don't always work for/with people who understand the impact that technology can have in a learning environment. But I also saw people who will be my researchers, sounding boards and cheerleaders. And I for them.
And that's just Day 1....