Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Teaching and Learning with iPad Conference

What an interesting couple of days it has been at the Teaching and Learning with iPad Conference!  And, if I am to be frank, it's been exhausting too.  Normally when one goes to a conference, it is out of town and you get to have a little bit of a vacation experience by staying in the hotel and eating out at restaurants - well, at least that's the way I do it.  But this particular conference is held right here in my hometown.  In fact, it is co-sponsored by my school so it is populated by my coworkers, my administrators, and even quite a few of my students.  Meanwhile, I'm running around and doing all my usual stuff like taking my kids into school on Friday and picking them up in the carpool, grabbing things from the supermarket on the way home, and all that sort of thing.  It's an odd and somewhat disconcerting mix of home life and conference experience that just leaves me feeling wiped out.

The organizers of the event did a great job, I think.  Everything was well laid out and well planned.  There were drinks, tasty snacks, and friendly helpful folks all around.  There was a social hour with cocktails and in which our school's jazz band was the entertainment.   (Though I think more conferences could benefit from cocktails and jazz - this is not a good mix in front of your students.  I had to decline the temptation because I could think of so many ways - so many ways - that could go wrong.)  We had folks from all over the state here, as you might suspect, but we also had folks from other states and a whole bunch of folks from Canada too.  I heard talk that there were other foreign nationals in attendance too, but I didn't meet any of them personally.

I have one major issue, and that was the fault of the hotel - not the conference organizers, the wi-fi was terribly slow and unreliable.  In the case of a technology conference, this is simply not okay.  If you agree to host a "Teaching and Learning with the iPad" conference, then you have to expect that a few hundred people are going to all want to use thier iPads at the same time.  And there is an expectation on the part of presenters and attendees that there will be a way to get online and have access to everything we are showcasing and learning about.  When I gave my presentation on Friday, there was almost no bandwidth and much of what I wanted to show my attendees had to be skipped.  It was a shame, but the enthusiasm and the supportive energy I got from everyone made the presentation a success regardless, so I can't really complain.

In addition to presenting two sessions, I attended presentations in all available slots.  I learned about engaging active learners, gamification, flipped instruction, and blended learning.  I even got a digital badge for my participation in the gamification session.
This is the first conference that I have attended that was not focused on foreign language instruction, and that made it a bit unusual for me.  I wasn't able to hook up with as many people to share instructional ideas as I do at other conferences and I didn't get a friendly vibe off of everyone.  Maybe foreign language teachers are all just great people?  I don't know the answer to that, but it might be fun to research it - if I weren't already a bit biased.  Still, I met two folks that I like quite a bit and I tweeted to both of them today.  Maybe we will stay in touch and maybe not, but I feel like I have to make the attempt because connecting with other professionals is very important to me.

Hasta pronto,



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