My final thoughts on the K12online conferece
It’s been two days now since this conference has ended. I’ve been using this time to reflect on the conference. The things that I feel went well and the things I think can be improved on for next year.
First let me state, that I had nothing to do with the conference. My only contributions to the conference was allowing participants, if they wanted, to ‘attend’ the conference and earn 3 graduate credits through Plymouth State (more on this later). I did also, at the request of Sheryl help to create the little table of plug-ins that one might need to view the conference.
Overall, I would have to give the conference a 4 out of 5 starts. Why? Because there is always room for improvement. I consider this a pretty good score. After all I would have given NECC last July a 2 1/2 (But the edblogger met up got a 5). So for a first time conference I think it went amazingly well.
The one thing that really made me go wow, was the amount of people that got involved with this conference everyone from the support people in the tappedin room to those who helped Wes, Darren and Sheryl organize everything. The execution of the conference, I think, was spot on.
Recommendations for next year:
1. I’m not sure how to do this, but I think it might be better if you could release a whole strand at one time. It became confusing going back and forth between two strands. For example the “Week In The Classroom” Strand and “Basic/Advanced Training” strand overlapping each other with blog posts. The categories helped some, but I think releasing a whole strand at a time really allows people the option to pick and choose what they want to view in that strand. Maybe release strand A on Monday and strand B on Thursday. Giving participants a couple of days to go through the presentations and even interact with them without the others getting in the way. I think the best option would be to have one strand a week, but four weeks might be two long of a time period? That’s hard to say seeing this could be archived forever. What’s to long in a digital world?
2. Agree on a common format for the presentations. I have to admit I didn’t think about this as I was creating my presentations for the conference. But now on the participant side I see how frustrating it can be having to search and install plug ins that you might be missing. Maybe just state that “All presentations must be viewable through Quicktime.” I chose Quicktime here as I found it to play most of the formats. If there was one player that could play them all then use that instead. That way everyone understands they need to have one and only one program installed to participate in the conference.
3. I’m still having mixed feelings about this one, but I’ll put it out there. The Elluminate sessions went well. It was great to have a chat, voice, and a white board all on one screen. By the third Elluminate session those taking part were feeling comfortable with the software and the routine. We do like our routines.
The When The Night Falls 24 hour Skypecast was not a bad idea, in fact it was rather fun to be able to come home, pop in to see who was around and what the conversation was about and then pop out again. I found the different windows hard to manage though. As a moderator, trying to focus on the people in the Skypecast and those in the Tappedin room at the same time and never having all in both. The Skypecast also caused a problem as anyone who was surfing skypecasts could drop by. This became frustrating after awhile, although the 11th grader from Toronto who dropped by my session was kind of cool. We talked about the technology at his school and the classes they offered. You could hear his TV in the background as we chatted. Where my mixed feelings come in, is that it might have been better to stick with Elluminate throughout the conference, but at the same time I liked the opportunity to experiment with other tools. As Skype continues to improve this might be a mute point by next year, but as a moderator I found it a little difficult.
That’s it Wes, Darren, Sheryl. The next time we meet in person the drinks are on me. What an amazing idea and an amazing job. This conference was a success if for no other reason then here in Shanghai 18 different people were exposed to these new tools, this new web, and to a new way of thinking about technology’s role in education. And that my friends, is what makes this worth it. This conference did more then preach to the choir, it added voices!