Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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ADE2010

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At day two of the #ADE2010 conference here in Singapore we focused our time on thinking about personal branding. Something that I believe all educators should think about and that I’ve discussed on this blog here, here and here.

It's been frustrating getting connected to the Internet at ADE. Something I didn't think I'd have to worry about at this conference. Picture taken by teachingsagittarian

The presentation from Apple I believe was spot on in the fact that educators do not take enough time to pat themselves on the back, reflect, and think about themselves as a brand. Especially international teachers like myself who go recruiting ever 3 to 5 years and need to understand that their name and skills are their brand and can help them in getting hired.

What I’m not sure on….and the verdict is still out…..is why Apple had us spend a whole day focusing on branding ourselves. What’s in it for them? The fact that you would have all these educators out there who have websites/brands and have ADE on their resume? I’m not clear on the overall outcome of why we spent a whole day on this at this point…so I’ll reserve judgment till later.

Finding your niche
I talked with a couple other ADErs today who were struggling with getting started with branding themselves. I found it interesting that while Apple employees were introducing the concept to us they never talked about niche markets or audiences. Yet I find it helpful to start thinking about what your brand is, what your voice is to first workout who you plan to brand yourself too.

I talked with a high school history teacher who saw his audience as his students. Helping him to think about what it means to be an ADE and who that audience is he will be able to support, we narrowed it down to high school history teachers who are successfully integrating technology in their classrooms. Now that seems like a pretty small audience until you think about just how many history teachers there are in the world, and how many of those are looking for resources on the internet to help them teach their lessons….and you find your audience to brand yourself too (36 History Teachers on Twitter via wefollow.com).

From there he could brainstorm what his brand might look like and design a website that was tailor make for that niche audience on the web today. Apple brought in Joseph Linaschke to help us brainstorm and think through our brands. An amazing photographer who knows how to stage and capture moments. We took time to sit down with him in small groups to bounce our branding ideas off him. I talked about understanding these niche audiences and although he agreed that you need to have them in mind, he reminded me that your brand needs to be recognizable by anyone who comes across it. Personally Joseph doesn’t like to think about his audience to much but instead brainstorms and shoots with an idea in mind and then narrow it down from there.

Either way works….as long as you get to what your brand is.

All of this has me thinking of my own brand and the different between branding myself and branding a website. This blog has a brand that is The Thinking Stick…my faithful baseball bat that to this day sits with me in my office. That is the logo of this blog. It might not be the right logo, in fact at this point I’m sure people come to this blog and expect baseball content. My brand does not match my content….I have a logo/brand disconnect and wonder if I should fix it. But with what? 5th graders the other day said I should use a meter stick….not a bad idea….but then is that me? I’m struggling with this….suggestions?

My personal logo/brand is this icon to the left. Created by my friend and artist David Gran it is the current logo of my website and background for my profile picture on Twitter and conference websites. But is it me? Does it convey my message? The problem is I’m not an artist and have never claimed the creative gene. So I’m struggling with what a new logo would look like. This was a great logo a couple years ago when 2.0 was the buzz, but today are we 2.0ed out? Does it still convey the message that is me? What are your thoughts? Your suggestions….really……I’m all ears….and you are my audience! 🙂

So today for me was a thinking day. I enjoyed the conversations I had at lunch, in the hallways and over dinner the most (as per usual). Did I learn something new? Not really…but I did reflect and over the next month or so I hope you will help me recreate my logo to better represent me as an educator, consultant, presenter. So I go to bed tonight thinking, reflecting, and wondering where does all this lead to……

So let me cut through the smoke and mirrors and really tell you why this coming week is important to me.

Simple….on Tripit.com I’m trailing David Warlick in the number of countries I’ve traveled to this year. As an International Educator….that’s just wrong! 😉

I won’t pass David this coming week but I’ll tie him going into the opening of Baseball Season and we all know from there it’s a whole new ball game.

http://ade.ismac.org/ADE_Asia_Institute_2010/Welcome_files/shapeimage_2.png

This coming week I’ll start my travels in Singapore where I’ll be brainwashed attending the Apple Distinguished Educators Asia Institute. I was suppose to attend here in Bangkok last year, but thanks to the #yellowshirts shutting down the airport the institute was moved to Singapore and I couldn’t have left if I wanted. This year #redshirts are making noise but the airport is clear for now.

I’m not sure if I’m looking forward to this Institute or not. I’ve been put off by the last couple of conferences that I have gone to strictly as a participant and not as a presenter. Maybe it’s the conference? Maybe it’s me? I’m just hoping #ADE2010 can pull me out of this conference funk I’m in. Of course I’m most excited for the conversations with other ADEers coming in from all over Asia to learn together…that is always a blast!

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Next Wednesday I leave Singapore and head to Philippians for the EARCOS Teachers Conference. I’ll be doing a pre-conference workshop and four conference sessions (non of which I’m prepared for at this point). It’s always great to see all my EARCOS friends from the region and have some great conversations around technology and the obstacles we all are trying to overcome in our home countries. Whether it is discussions about site blockage in China, or why not use pirated software when it’s everywhere and cheap, the discussions are always great. You’ll be able to follow that conference on Twitter at #ETC2010.

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Lastly it’s a late night flight Sunday back to Bangkok, straight to a hotel downtown and up early Monday for an all day institute I’ll be leading for the NESA Teachers Conference. I’m most excited about this all day institute for two reasons.

1. NESA was were I gave my first ever presentation back in 2002 at this exact conference in Bangkok. It’s been such a journey presenting over the past couple of years and to be invited back to the conference I started at is….well….it’s an honor. At the time I was a 5th grade teacher in Saudi Arabia. That seems like a life time ago!

2. My day long institute is on Creating and Teaching in Blended Classrooms. A new presentation/workshop for me where my hope is well get into some deep discussions about teaching and learning in blended classroom environments. With Moodle (which is widely used in the NESA region) as our backbone my hope is that we will all learn how to create, manage, and use Moodle and Web 2.0 tools effectively in a Blended Classroom environment.

So over the next week you’ll be getting updates from these places as I learn with other educators. My favorite part of conferences are the conversations I have with others, and the ideas and time I get to blog my thinking. Whether in an airplane or in a hotel room, I seem to always find time to blog during conferences.