What. A. Relief.
For those of you that have ever planned a wedding, you know how stressful it can be trying to remember every little detail throughout the planning and execution of the event. Planning an international conference in education is sort of like planning a wedding, but in our case we had 23 brides all with their own unique style and individual perspective. Luckily, the 23 of us were all centered around one common vision – leading the way to a better educational future for our students.
This was our conference theme, ‘lead the way’. We wanted to lead the way through our own conference experience, but also equip others to lead the way on their campuses after attending our conference. With this in mind, we were able to pull off the #GREAT17 and it was awesome! (Side note: The word ‘great’ is forever ruined for me with all the puns we’ve had over the last two weeks).
If you’ve read my previous blog post about the #GREAT17, you know what it is that I am talking about. If you haven’t read it, feel free to pop over and do that or just continue with this post; either way, here are some of the highlights (for full conference details visit our website).
Welcome, Registration & Mingling
Things got started bright and early for the MAET year 2s as we had to be in the building before any guests arrived to make sure we had the spaces set up, the technology prepped, and registration ready to go. This was a relatively smooth process that, for most conference participations, was enhanced by the addition of Rick’s Coffee Cafe. Any MSU Alums will recognize the iconic Rick’s logo – any non-MSU alums should know the original Rick’s cafe is not a coffee shop…
Anyway, during this time I was fortunate enough to meet some of the Irish educators that were joining us for the conference. There was one educator in particular who stood out because of what he had shared with me during our initial conversation. A colleague of mine had asked him if he’s attended GREAT conferences before, or if this was his first one. The educator told us that he has never been to a GREAT conference, but that he actually heard about it via Twitter and thought he would come check it out. Why is that amazing? Because it means my incessant clogging of Twitter for the past two weeks actually reached someone! And that is awesome.
Our keynote speaker, Cornelia Connolly, had a great message prepared for us about leading the way in education with educational technology. I shared some of her insights on my Twitter page but there is one thing she said that really resonated with me and it’s this:
“If you think technology can solve your educational problems, then you don’t understand the problems and you don’t understand the technology. The solution lies in processes, systems and people” (Michael Trucano).
I cannot tell you how many people don’t understand what educational technology is or what I am doing here in this program. I have even had colleagues at work say “oh, so you’re the one making robots to replace us and take our jobs” – that is just ludacris. Educational technology is not about replacing teachers, it’s about enhancing the learning environment for students. This is another tangent for another time, but it really solidified for me how little people truly understand education or educational technology and that is exactly why I am in this program and why I’d like to share my learning.
MAET Year 1 & 3 Poster Presentations
The MAET year 1 students worked in pairs to develop their own poster presentations through a SIG = special interest group. These students had to conduct research, create a poster and a wiki page to house all their information. You can check out my SIG poster presentation from last year by visiting #SIGBLC.
All of the workshop sessions were hosted by MAET year 2 students. These groups had to prepare a one hour, interactive, session based on research they had conducted on an educational trend throughout the last 12 days. I presented in the 3rd workshop session, but will make a separate post about my presentation (this one is already getting a bit long…sorry…I’m almost finished).
Speed Dating Activity
All teachers have that one app or tech tool they just love, so we decided to share those speed dating style. It’s very simple, form two lines facing each other, each person gets one minute to share their app or tech tool with the person across from them. After each person shares, the lines shift and you repeat. It’s a quick way to share and receive a lot of valuable information.
We ended the day with the technology playground – and it’s exactly what it sounds like. We got out all the tech tools and toys we had in Ireland and we just let people play. There were robots and 3D pens, augmented reality apps and Google cardboards. There were so many different tools and toys for people to explore, it was the perfect way to wrap up the conference with a little ‘play’ time for participants.
Phew! What a long, exhausting, fun-filled, educational day it was. I will not lie, there were times throughout the last two weeks that I was not wholly convinced we could pull this off, but we did it and it was #GREAT17!