Saturday, March 19, 2011

Post #MACUL11 Wrap Up


Post MACUL11 Wrap Up

I have had time to think about all of the different things I saw, heard and experienced at #MACUL11 and here are some of my thoughts.

Keynote:

Rushton Hurley (@RushtonH) kicked off the conference with a wonderful Keynote. His talk on “What Technology Has Changed and Hasn’t Changed with Teacher and Learning” was spot on. I also had the chance to sit in on his presentation entitled, “Technology and Staff Morale”. I was really excited about this presentation. Staff Morale has been at an all time low in my building and I feel that it has been pretty rough across the state.  He provided a link to some wonderful resources tinyurl.com/RH-MACUL11 that educators can use to make life a little easier and stop the isolation many teachers suffer in their building.

I also had the chance to chat with Rushton in the Social Media Café. He is a very nice person. We just talked and shared some ideas and got to thinking about the importance of collaboration and communication. I highly suggest you follow him on Twitter and send him a hello.

Vendors:

I felt there was too much hardware and not enough software at #MACUL11. Now, my district already had committed to Smartboards, so over half of the Vendor area was not useful. However, if you were looking for Hardware to bring to your school district, it was a nice setup.

What I was hoping to see more of where companies designed to reach out to the classroom teacher. There were some that I think are great for the classroom teacher, BrainPop, TechSmith and StrataLogica to name just a few.

Social Media Café:

I was bummed about the Social Media Café. I did not like the location. It was off to the side and just outside the vendor area. It was not near the main traffic of the conference. It would have been better to place it outside of the vendor area next to the restaurant. There was great traffic and tables and chairs. Many people were already hanging out there and connecting. At the opposite end of the Social Media Café, there were long tables and chairs. This was filled with people and their laptops on the first day. It seemed to become a Social Media Café. On the 2nd day of the conference, the tables and chairs were gone.

The times that I was in the SMC, it was pretty dead. I’m not sure why. They SMC had small Ottomans for people to use. I tended to sit on the ground and use the ottoman as a place to set my iPad. It wasn’t a very comfortable way to set up shop, but it was ok for me. For others though, it might not have been an attractive situation. There might be another reason though.

Social Media Use at #MACUL11:

MACUL says that over 4,000 teachers were in attendance. That is awesome. Whenever that many teachers get together, great things are going to happen. However, I watched the Twitter stream and very few people were actively tweeting. I would say less than 10% of the 4,000 attendees were using Twitter or other social media.

When I arrived, I was surprised that nobody had created a check-in for 4square. I happily created one and became Mayor of #MACUL11! I feel that MACUL needs to make a major push to get teachers connected using Social Media. They have started with a Facebook account, Flickr stream, a MACUL Ning and their own Twitter account, but more needs to be done.

My Twitter/PLN presentation was moderately attended (15) and they seemed excited to join Twitter and I hope they stick to it. One of the ways they will is by supporting them. I intend to keep an eye on those Tweeters and keep them engaged after the conference. As an education community that is spread far and wide in this great Mitten, I feel that Social Media is the way to keep teachers connected and sharing. I’m going to try and get as many Michiganders connected using Social Media to help support education in this state.

Sessions:

I think there was a great selection of sessions. I was able to see Michael Kaechele’s presentation “Relate, Collaborate and Create”, Steve Dembo’s “iThink iNeed iPads in the Classroom”, Dan Spencer’s “Learning at Their Own Pace” and Rushton Hurley’s “Technology and Staff Morale”. I wish I could have seen more, but I presented twice so that limits the amount that I could attend. Even in my presentations, I felt like I learned a thing or two from the people that attended.

Misc:

I loved the conference. There were some things that I think could be improved for next year, but I think that should be the goal of every conference. Conferences should keep growing and building to be the best event of the year.

The connection I got to make at #MACUL11 were amazing. I don’t have the time or space to mention everyone, but you know who you are. I love meeting passionate educators. It gets me excited because I see another person I get to share with and learn from. That is what makes conference great! When it comes down to the meat of it, teachers go to conference to share and learn. My next post is going to address this issue in full.