I was lucky enough to be able to spend last week in Austin, TX at the TCEA convention. I have been going for about the last 5-6 years, so I think I have a pretty good feel about what to expect. For what it is worth, here are my observations.
I was able to present two sessions this year with the help of some of my colleagues: @mandryrbryan, @dustyroden, and @mrsjdyer. One session, Google Apps Walk and Talk, was a 90 minute session. The other, Let’s Get Digital, was a 3 hour session. While I feel both sessions went well, here are a couple things I would change…
First of all, no session should last 3 hours. It is hard to keep anyone motivated for 3 hours straight. I believe we had a good mix of presentation time and play time mixed together, but it still seemed very long. I am not sure why we ever put in for a 3 hour session and I surely will never do it again! (until the next time… ;o))
Second, something needs to be done with the way you register for the premium sessions. We had 40 people signed up for the “Let’s Get Digital” session and about 12 showed up. More were waiting at the door and were able to come in so we had a good crowd, but seriously? In years’ past you used to have to pay for each session. Now you pay a flat rate to attend as many premium sessions as you wish. I think this leads to many people registering early, then going in and signing up for as many sessions as they can. Once they are registered they pick and choose but do not go back and un-register for anything. That is bad practice…and quite frankly it irritates the crap out of me! You are taking a spot from someone else who may really want to attend. STOP IT! OK…off my soapbox.
Overall, I think our sessions went very well and we received many kind words from those in attendance. If you were one of those people, I thank you.
Sessions I Attended
I attended many good sessions both from a presenter skill standpoint and an informational one. I am lucky in that the district I work for has bought whole-heartedly into technology integration. We have A LOT of technology throughout the district, so I can’t say I saw anything new that blew my doors off. I did, however, find many little tips and tricks as well as quite a few new ways to tweak what we are doing to make things better. I am not just talking about new apps or technology, but more the approach for training and integration. That is what I found very valuable walking away this year.
By far, the best part of the week was being able to meet many of my Tweeps face to face for the first time. Twitter plays a huge role in my own PLN. Becoming involved in chats and making connections with others all over the world has brought about numerous ideas and solutions to problems I was facing. It was nice to talk to some of those people and get to know them a little better. My favorite group is the #txed crew. If you are not involved in a Twitter chat, the #txed chat is a great place to start. We chat from 8:30-9:30 on Wednesdays. It is one of the fastest hours you will ever experience. Thoughts, ideas, and humor are flying through this hashtag. They have a new website that is just getting started as well: http://txeducators.com. Check it out for yourself.