I attended the Georgia Educational Technology Conference (GaETC) on November 4, 2015. I only attended for one day, but it was still such a great experience! I was thankful for the opportunity and really felt like I walked away more informed, better connected, and totally inspired.
I attended four sessions after the opening keynote address from Angela Maiers, and I also spent one session block visiting exhibitors' tables and the student showcase projects. The first session, Information Literacy in a Web 2.0 World, was presented by Ru Story-Huffman. She discussed how to map AASL information literacy skills to web 2.0 tools, mainly using the Big 6 framework. I loved how she used a Padlet board (below) to curate resources related to her talk.
Will Richardson spoke during my second session. His presentation, Educating Modern Learners, was a really big-picture, inspirational look at the state of education in today's schools. He argued that technology integration and 1:1 initiatives aren't really changing how kids learn. We're doing the same old things, just with new tools. Instead of looking to technology to improve student learning, educators should be seeking a paradigm shift to more authentic, contextualized, inquiry-based projects in their classrooms. I was happy to find that I had heard most (if not all!) of these ideas already in my ITEC classes at Georgia Southern.
My third session was presented by Carla Gregory, a media specialist at Smitha Middle School in Marietta. In her talk, Ssshing Not Allowed: From Media Center to Media Commons, she discussed how she transformed her media center from traditional and limited to 21-century and ultra-functional -- all on a very small budget. She suggested a 10 step plan and gave suggestions on how to practically approach setbacks. Her presentation materials were really helpful to me after I returned to my school.
My final session, E-textbooks in K-12 Education: Fact of Fiction?, was presented by Sheila Cartwright. I find this topic -- digital textbooks and their benefits/challenges -- extremely interesting, so I was pretty pumped to attend her session. She talked about other countries' approaches to digital textbooks and why the U.S. seems so far behind. It's a complicated issue, and even though digital textbooks are definitely on the educational horizon, we still have a ways to go.
I really enjoyed my experience last year and think conference attendance is such a great way to hear new ideas and get plugged in. I just got word last week that I'll be going back to GaETC this year and that I'll be presenting a session of my own! More on that later...