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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


  1. Social Media gets such negative publicity that I think conservative educators shy away from it. More people need to know the positive uses of it, and need to be introduced to how they can connect with other educators who are just as passionate about their jobs! I think you did an awesome job of doing this. I fully plan on encouraging my fellow staff members to join the Twitter world.

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  3. I agree with your evaluation of the social media cafe. It was a great idea poorly executed.

    Last month I attended the Illinois Computing Educators conference (ICE). They had an great SMC. It was out of the direct traffic streem, but had nice, comfortable chairs, lots of room, and great lighting.

    At MACUL I fellt like I was in the quarentine section or something! The area was roped off, and very intimidating to enter.

    Nice to meet you this year. See you at #edcampdetroit!

  4. I had just written up a very nice, big long comment to your very thoughtful post, and Blogger ate it (side note: Move over to Wordpress and ditch this hobbled platform).

    Here's my condensed version of my previously eaten-comments.

    The Social Media Cafe was a great first effort. There was recently a HUGE turnover in board leadership, and the SMC was one of the fruits of that turnover. There are often severe limitations placed on MACUL by the facility hosting the conference, as well as traditional events that get in the way. Not a bad thing, just an opportunity to continue to shift.

    You have great thoughts, and connecting educators in the state socially through the net is awesome, but there needs to be a stronger connection of leadership as well, which is why I fully expect you to get involved with MACUL leadership in the next couple of years. If not, I think you will be wasting a great way to get your ideas spread faster.

    With an organization this huge, MACUL quite often is about WHO you know, not WHAT you know :)

  5. I did notice the social media centre and it was unfortunate that the Help Desk was right beside it! Perhaps that's why people weren't there? As you say, it's an experiment and so I'm sure will grow in subsequent years. The concept of a conversation place just needs to grow.

    I'm sorry that our paths didn't cross during the event. It would have been nice to say hello. I did FourSquare but checked in to Cobo and was hoping that that would be where people went.

    Personally, I like the feel of a MACUL. It's big enough that you can essentially have it all. It's small enough that you don't have to walk forever to get to the next session. I really like the layout of Cobo for a conference - it's just a matter of minutes between sessions.

    As I indicated in my blog post this morning, the highlight for me was talking to the young ladies and gentlemen in the student demonstration area. It's one thing to hear from a paid keynote speaker about the promise of technology but it's quite another to see kids that get it. Kudos go to the teachers that took the time to first recognize that something great is happening in their classrooms and secondly, to take the time to plan, supervise, and spend time with their students during this period. Anyone who questions the value of technology and/or social media should sit with those students for half an hour. Their eyes would truly be opened with their use of technology and the way that curriculum is being addressed by such use.

    Michigan educators should be proud that you have such a wonderful conference that you can attend so conveniently.

  6. I did not attend your twitter session but I have made the full leap into twitter during the macul conference. I think that the key to using twitter is the people that you follow. If you follow people that give you junk then all you get is junk. I don't want to know what people want for breakfast I want to know useful information that I can use to be a better teacher.


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