Yearly conferences

Next week I will be attending my 15th (I think) Ohio eTech Technology
(OETC). Over the years I’ve learned a few things. Ignore
the vendor presentations, flip through the vendor hall quickly for free
swag, talk to the students that are presenting, attend teacher
presentations, network and discuss with others. My goal is to learn one
new thing, and I usually succeed. That being said, does the time
allotment make learning that “one new thing” worth it? Of all the items
I mentioned above, the free swag from vendors is the only thing I can’t
do virtually.

By the time there is a presentation on a topic I’m interested, I’ve
already researched the topic, visited websites, watched videos. Once the
conference rolls around, I will attend presentations, take notes, ask
questions, and hopefully I’ll come away with some insight or piece of
information that I didn’t get online. More often than not this doesn’t
happen (thankfully, the number of bullet point presentations has gone
down immensely!).

This year a hot topic is Blended Learning, the combination of
face-to-face instruction with online instruction. A relatively new term,
Blended Learning is continuing the flipped classroom model, which
really took off with the Salman Khan and the Khan Academy. The irony
of Blended Learning being the main topic of the first day of OETC is
the fact that most of what OETC is could be delivered online. Looking
through the Schedule searching for blended learning didn’t bring
up any sessions that actually demonstrate blended learning. And by
demonstrate, I mean that they don’t give resources for a participant to
use before the session so they can come into the session informed and
ready. Instead, these sessions will more than likely be a lecture.

There is a chance for something amazing to happen this year. On Tuesday
the first Un-conference will take place, OETCx. Ohio eTech is
supplying several rooms for a totally different take on what a
conference could be. I’m excited and will be a total hypocrite for what
I said above. I will be doing an ignite style session, the OETCx
where I will have 5 mins and 20 slides to tell a story. I’m
also on a panel called the OETCx App Smackdown. I’m excited to be a
part of OETCx and to have the chance to push forward what conferences
could be like.