Monday, March 06, 2006

Thanks to All

It's Monday and I've had time to digest the events of last week! What a conference!

I'd like to first thank all of the conference volunteers. I helped coordinating volunteer efforts, and I was so pleased with the collective effort of such a great group of people. Community service is an essential component in making organizations like ICE thrive, and I really appreciate the enthusiasm of our volunteers!

The dedication of our volunteers made me reminisce this week. Their efforts reminded me of Pat Tomasek, the woman who first introduced me to ICE circa 1995. Pat was the kind of person who threw herself into everything that she did, and she particularly loved volunteering for Illinois Computing Educators. She had seemingly unlimited energy and understood the power of community service. I will always be grateful to Pat for introducing technology and ICE to me. She set the standard for living life to the fullest and I miss her presence dearly as she passed on about four years ago.

For me personally, this conference was all about connections. I could not walk from one end of Pheasant Run to the other without running into someone I knew and invariably, I stopped to chat. It was great to meet volunteers that I had only corresponded with via email as well as chat former colleagues from the Web Institute for Teachers, former students from NLU, colleagues from previous schools, a vendor or two, and other Apple Distinguished Educators. I guess I hadn't realized how many relationships I have formed over the years and I liked catching up with people.

Most people probably do not realize how busy conference committee members are during the conference. I think it's fair to say, at least in my case, that we do not get to see a lot of sessions. Thursday was completely hectic for me and as much as I wanted to see Will Richardson and Tim Lauer amongst other speakers, I realized that I probably will be able to catch them at NECC. I also read their blogs on a regular basis. Thursday was just an overwhelming day for me with the start of the conference and two presentations of my own.

On Thursday, I particularly enjoyed a conversation with audience members after my RSS presentation. We got on the topic of MySpace and how schools are handling the latest rage among younger people. I think we are going to hear more and more about this in conferences to come.

Also, during the course of many conversations with other Illinois teachers during the past few months, not just at IL-TCE, I have become aware of alarming trends that make me appreciate my current position teaching in a private school. I've heard stories related to funding.... teachers not allowed to travel to out of state no longer being a priority due to budget restraints....blogs being completely blocked at schools... computers locked down to limit student access.... schools that used to be cutting edge with tech and now are sorely lacking technology-wise. It's sad for me to hear these stories, but I'm also encouraged that so many teachers clearly believe in the power of technology as evidenced by IL-TCE attendees and presenters. I think it's important that we carry a message back to our schools that technology empowers our kids and that it is vital that we teach them to harness emerging technologies in a meaningful and positive way.

On Friday, I did get to attend a couple of sessions. I heard part of David Warlick's keynote and attended his accompanying session, Riding the Edge of the Wave. He did a much better job of explaining RSS than I did in my preso, and I liked the newaggregator, NewsFire, that he demonstrated. I also learned that you can drag and drop an RSS button into certain news aggregators to subscribe to that feed. This method works with my newsreader of choice, NetNewWire. Usually I just click on a blue Safari RSS button and I'm subscribed via NetNewsWire. I have NetNewsWire set as my default newsreader via my Safari preferences. Sorry if I just lost you... you should try RSS and find out what all the fuss is about!

I also had a chance to see Tony Vincent and he had a very engaging presentation style and a great PowerPoint presentation. He kept it very simple with great graphics. I think he must be a fan of Presentation Zen.

After the conference ended, I saw Tony and David intently huddled over their laptops about five feet away from each other in the elevator area of Pheasant Run. In hindsight, I wonder if they were iChatting with each other... I read in this blog that David had a chance to mingle with Tony and Tammy Worcester apr├ęs conference. Maybe they sat their chatting with each other via instant messaging just like many of our students do, I suspect! :)

And finally, I am very pleased with the level of participation in this blog. As I write this, we have had almost 2200 hits on this blog, 45 posts and approximately 70 people signed up in order to contribute to the blog. Thank you to all who posted, particularly all the presenters who gave another dimension to the conference experience by adding their thoughts and links. Keep the conversation going... this blog does not have to come to a standstill now that the conference is over.

Remember that next year's theme is Thinking Outside the Box and Wires... and hopefuly we'll see some of you at the National Educational Computing Conference in San Diego this July!

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At 9:27 PM, Blogger Wesley Fryer said...

I just discovered this blog tonight Lucy, what a rich trove! Thanks so much for all your work and the work of others to make the conference a success! Were any of the sessions podcasted? I especially would love to hear the spotlight session by Susim Munshi and Susan Switzer.


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