CONNECT Conference 2013
I was lucky enough to be one of about 50 delegates to attend the CONNECT Conference in Niagara Falls these past few days. The intention of this event was to literally “connect” as many educational stakeholders as possible in one event. This meant that educators, business and educational IT people came together to talk about and learn from each other. There was amazing opportunities for networking and seeing what others are doing.
I was a bit busy playing host and assembling and taking down our massive NeXt Desk Sculpture to attend many of the sessions, but the ones I did were informative and interesting. I will get into more detail in a bit about those but thought I would make some general comments about the conference as a whole first.
I understand the need to get as many stakeholders together, as well as the financial realities that face an organizing committee when they are trying to turn a small event into a huge one, but it was a bit too business oriented for me at times. I guess I just need to learn how to better navigate these sessions and that was how I tried to help some of our teacher delegates that were excited about sessions (from their agenda description), only to find out that they were little more than a vendors sales pitch. That being said it was still a great opportunity.
I think the best part of the event, like most of these, is the connections made with our own delegation. We were able to interact as a group and talk to each other and possibly forge some new relationships that will lead to new teaching and learning opportunities. You can’t really even quantify this aspect of a destination conference. When you go away with colleagues you get to know them in so many different ways and get to see what they really believe in when it comes to education. Truly amazing stuff and so I highly recommend the exercise whenever possible.
Okay, onto the sessions but more particularly the one session that stuck with me the most. I attended George Couros’ session titled “Blogging as Portfolio” and it was great.
I had the chance to hear George at a MISA sponsored event about a month ago and found him to be a very engaging and entertaining speaker. This was the hook that got me to attend his session but the meat of the presentation was what got me to blog about it here. Coincidentally the subject was blogging which I obviously have started to do but his tips or ideas were amazing. I love the way that he was able to lay out the rationale AND the practical ways for making a blog a proper and almost required form of Instructional Leadership. It was so practical that while he was presenting I found myself frantically emailing myself notes about what I had to do to improve my blog. Utilizing categories and tags is a great idea and one that I will follow and expand on for sure.
The key message that came from George was that educators need to start doing this themselves and then look to see how to utilize this with their students. One comment he made was, “Don’t do this (blogging) TO students, do this WITH students.” Seems simple but very powerful and a great idea for all educators to take into consideration for most of what they do. To model behaviour is to teach behaviour and I think this is a great thing for anyone involved with young people to consider.
To expand further on this idea, I think it is imperative that educators look to utilize some form of social media to share what they are doing. This is imperative as we have the ability, thanks to technology, to rapidly expand our library of resources, ideas and networks. By sharing you make the profession of teaching stronger and that is the responsibility of all educators.
It goes without saying that I will pick any session that has George in it and advise all educators to see him. He is full of good and practical ideas and is a great public speaker, (another must when it comes to conferences as I cannot forgive poor public speaking).