Random Thoughts

GAFE Summit: A Must Attend Event

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It is day two here in San Jose at the California GAFE (Google Apps For Education) Summit. What a great summit for educators working at schools that have or are about to adopt Google Apps. 


Mark Wagner and team have put together a great event. With 70% of the participants new to Google Apps many of the sessions are focused on getting educators started with a sprinkling of real geekiness for those advance users. Of course being just a few miles away from Google Headquarters gives this summit a little extra something special with keynote from Jaime Casap and Dan Russell. The pressure is definitely on for my keynote next weekend at the Great Plains Google Summit

There’s a couple reasons why I think these events are and will continue to be successful. There are simple things that anyone planning a conference needs to think about.

Size Matters:

The more conferences I attend the more I am loving conferences that are between 400-600 people. It’s such a great size for discussions, for networking and for sessions. When planning your conference think about the size you want. Bigger doesn’t always mean better. A small group of passionate people can do a lot for the culture of a conference. We could have easily expand the Learning 2.0 conference to be much bigger but that was never our purpose. We want a nice group of passionate people to come and learn from each other. For me these are the ultimate size conferences. 

Trained Speakers:

Every speaker at the GAFE Summit is either a Google Certified Teacher or a Google Apps Certified Trainer. If you’re going to run a conference around a specific set of tools why not get people who are passionate about those tools to do the sessions? That’s what the Ed Tech Team has done and it has worked out well.

Keynotes That Know How to Lecture:

See my last blog post. Keynotes go a long way in setting the tone for the day of the conference. If you are going to have a keynote make sure you get a good one. Someone who understands what their job is and is able to make people laugh, cry and motivate them to learn. Or in Dan Russell’s case today, make you realize just how much you still have to learn and then….go learn it. 


In the end if you use Google Apps or if your school uses Google Apps or if you are an administrator at a school who uses Google Apps. This is a must attend event for you or some of your teachers. You can check out the GAFEsummit.com website for up and coming summits near you or if there is nothing in your neighbors have your school host one. I for one am looking forward to hopefully attending more summits in the future. When you are surrounded by passionate educators you can’t help but learn something!

(Blogged on a ChromeBook…more on this fun device later!)

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Jeff…thanks so much for being here. You were such a positive presence here and added not only by presenting your sessions, but your energy and fun. It was great to do our first event together and I appreciate your thoughts above about the conference. See you next week in Lincoln!


  2. Great writeup Jeff, appreciate you sharing. We have just followed Dan’s search tutorials online last week at a Lead Teacher’s meeting. I do hope this enthusiasm to attend more GAFE summits means you will be on the team coming to the Auckland, NZ summit in October this year. You would love it down our way 🙂


    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Would love to come that way Dorothy. Won’t make it this year….but NZ is definitely on our list to visit.

  3. Jeff,

    I had the fortune to attend the Rocky Mountain summit and I can’t speak highly enough of the conference. I think the number attending was smaller than the California event (maybe 250?) but the setting was great, the presenters were all top notch, and I managed to learn a good deal over the two days. It’s on my my list of must do PD next year and I’ll be getting the word out!

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Glad you enjoyed it. I agree great presenters and so many new and different approaches to using Google Apps.

    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Not yet…but there are more being added to the site all the time as they get them lined up. Keep checking here to see if one gets close to you.

  4. Pingback: The ‘Burden’ of Technology | [working title in parentheses]

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