I spent my summer vacation learning!
Many of my friends and family think that I am crazy that I would spend my summer attending educational conferences, but here are the reasons that I attend:
1. To have meaningful discussions with people that understand me.
It is lonely to be the only technology minded person in my school. But when I get to a conference full of technology people, all of sudden I am immersed in a community of people that understand what I am saying. I can talk about iPad integration, 1:1 initiatives, Web 2.0 tools, and dongles without people looking at me like I'm crazy. The other educators share my frustrations and appreciate my input. I learn from others and I connect. I begin exchanging ideas, it is obvious that the others also share a passion for what they do, and it is wonderful!
2. To learn from "experts".
At a conference there are opportunities to attend keynote sessions and workshops to listen to and learn from some of the greatest minds in education. Sure I have learned from them, but some of the best learning opportunities that I have had at conferences have been working with person sitting right next to me. It starts simply with a conversation and the willingness of two individuals to teach each other an impromptu lesson or how-to right then and there. The "expert" in the room just might be the person next to you and not the one at the podium.
3. To build my Professional Learning Network.
Everyone has a story to share and something to teach me. Right now I follow over 1,200 people on Twitter. I learn from the posts of these educators. At a conference it is nice to meet some of these people in person. I also make new connections and find more people to follow on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites so that I can keep up to date with educational technology as it constantly changes. Follow me: @karenogen
4. To be energized and ready to "make it happen".
Teaching can wear you down. Conferences can pick you back up, pump you up with great ideas, and get you ready to go back into the classroom full of energy and enthusiasm. Educators want to make a difference, sometimes they just need to hear some new ideas or simply need affirmation that what they are already doing is working! The positive feeling that educators get from attending a conference can give them the push they need to make the magic happen in the classroom, in their school, or in their district! I know I am ready to go!
5. To learn!
Educational technology changes rapidly. Now I will have new resources for my blog!