Upstate Technology Conference (UTC) 2010 Reflections, Part 2


Me, Fran, & Cathy. Photo by looneyhiker!

Wednesday, June 22nd

Andi Fansher – Social Networking in MY Classroom?

Andi created a template in Publisher using social network categories for various projects across subjects.  Science created Spacebook using planets as their “people” and English created pages for novel characters, etc.  This wasn’t quite the session I expected, I thought it would be more on how to teach social networking, not using social networking in projects, it was still an interesting session.  I particularly liked the student examples/completed projects.  They were very creative and I would think the kids had fun.  I’ve had an English teacher use this type of project for a novel assignment, but using a more simple template.  I like Andi’s more involved template and the fact that for things like the buttons page and for things like “affiliations/groups” the kids would have to use what they know/read to decide what to use instead of just pulling the answers from the texts.

Hall Davidson – Great Secret “C” for Content Creation: Cromakey

I personally use a Mac, but we are a PC district.  I liked how he showed how to use the Mac’s free Photobooth program as well as Adobe Premiere Elements to quickly and easily create green screen projects.  These were REALLY simple tools/directions that even elementary age kids could use.  He used video clips from StreamlineSC as the backdrop.  I can’t adequately describe the session here.  I will say I’ll get Cathy back for making us sit on the front row.  I got called out of the audience to come up and demonstrate how easy it is to use Photobooth and a StreamlineSC video to create a green screen effect.  On the bright side, I did receive a Planet Earth DVD for being a volunteer.  I just hope the “video” I “starred” in doesn’t get posted to YouTube!  How embarrassing – especially since I didn’t know anything about the video clip on blood I was supposed to be narrating!

Keynote: Hall Davidson – The Teacher With a Thousand Brains*

Used Wallwisher, Google Docs, and PollEverywhere to demonstrate the power of Web 2.0 for an “instant teacher network.”  Again, this session was recorded and should be made available in StreamlineSC.

*BTW: StreamlineSC is what Discovery Education/United Streaming is called in South Carolina.  So those of you with United Streaming or Discover Education access, you might also check to see if these keynotes are available to you.

Instead of lunch, we went to the room we were presenting in so that we could set up.  It is a good thing we did as we had some technical problems.  In the end, I had to use my aircard in order for us to have access to the full content we needed.  Isn’t that typical of a school setting – even though we were told the firewall/filter was open for the day to allow presenters to access normally blocked sites.  Our session:

There’s An App for That: Using Web Apps to Organize, Simplify, and Enrich Your Life

Program description:  “Come learn about web applications and 2.0 tools that help educators both streamline and enhance their professional (and personal) lives. See real examples and learn tricks and tips as Cathy, Heather, and Fran take attendees through a tool showcase (including Zamzar, Evernote, Dropbox, and iGoogle). Leave equipped to “organize, simplify, and enrich” your life knowing “there’s an app for that!”

Fran Bullington introduced iGoogle and how she uses it to organize, simplify, and enrich her life.

Cathy Nelson introduced Dropbox and how she uses it to store documents and files and share them with others.

I introduced Evernote and how I’m using it to organize and store information.

Our session was PACKED.  See screenshot from the photo gallery UTC put together:

Screen shot 2010-07-02 at 10.49.21 AMThis was a good and bad thing – good because lots of people were interested in our session, bad because it was so full we were unable to move around.  Our original plan was to introduce the tools and then allow attendees to play with the tools while we circulated and answered any questions/problems.  Unfortunately, I got waylaid at the front of the room and I have not idea where my two co-presenters got waylaid.  There was no way we could circulate!  Cathy wrote up a good evaluation of this on her blog.

Critiquing my own “performance” I have to say it wasn’t that great.  I had a list of what I wanted to cover (since we were limited to our time), but decided to “wing it” instead.  So of course, I forgot some things and expanded on others that weren’t as important.  I also believe I lost the focus of the session which was to show how teachers can use these tools in their personal life first.  You have to become comfortable with the tools yourself before you can begin to implement them within your classroom/curriculum.  I think all three of us failed to emphasize this point in our talks – yeah, we gave examples and told how we were using the tools personally, but we didn’t EMPHASIZE that the point was to play, learn, use the tools yourself.

Looking over the feedback surveys was interesting.  There were only 19 completed in a room of 30 computers – with at least another 20 folks sitting/standing around the room.  Not a bad total considering.   We should also have thought to have some hardcopies and/or index cards for folks who didn’t have a computer to have the opportunity to give us feedback or ask questions.  Some comments surprised me:

“a good sequel woud be to share a document of ideas for use in the classroom.”  (emphasis mine)

“… I think a hand out would be wonderful.” (emphasis mine)

“written step by step handout.” (emphasis mine)

“… I would have liked to have seen more actual uses for each tool, especially Evernote and Dropbox.  Demonstrating the actual use of each would have been helpful, e.g., uploading and downloading files or organizing info. within the site …”

Okay, folks, we’re at a TECHNOLOGY conference.  We gave you links to our presentation materials.  We’re not going to have physical handouts!  I will admit that one of the things we failed to do was have one place (online) where all of the links were located and to have this page up on the computers before the attendees arrived.  That’s the plan for our next presentation and Cathy has already got us a page up.  We’ll also be closing the doors once all computers are full so we can give people time to sign up for accounts and play with the programs – upload files, add things, organize, etc. and be able to circulate to help and answer questions.

After our session, there was more talking, lunch, and then the closing session.  Overall, I enjoyed my time at UTC and look forward to next years!

4 thoughts on “Upstate Technology Conference (UTC) 2010 Reflections, Part 2

  1. Pingback: Cathy Nelson’s Professional Thoughts » Blog Archive » Conferences cause “ADDOSS”

  2. UTC offers so many opportunities for learning and networking – and you seem to have captured both in your 2 part UTC post.

    I have no numbers to support my belief, but I feel that a good 2/3 of the attendees are new to much of the technology being presented at UTC. We are fortunate that Greenville County offers this conference free of charge to us and brings in top quality keynote speakers (Hall Davidson, Chris Craft, Ewan McIntosh, and David Jakes to name those from the last three years).

    It is disheartening to think that so many educators are unfamiliar with technology, but seeing them willing to step out of their safety zones and attend conferences like UTC that are all about technology is encouraging.

    Perhaps in another year or two, most of the UTC’s attendees’ expectations will have changed: no more paper directions, just the URL for each presentation so that they can further explore the material on their own time.

    Because I approached our presentation with this belief, I wasn’t really surprised that attendees wanted handouts. I felt their frustration because so many did not have a computer and others needed the guidance we had planned to give them as we walked around. We were unprepared for more than 30 participants, thinking the room would be closed once all 30 computers had been taken.

    From speaking with some of the participants when I did get the opportunity to squeeze down the aisle, I feel that most found the material being presented was interesting and they wanted to have more time to play. So, if we had been able to conduct our presentation as planned, it would have been on target.

    I think it would be wise for us to have a Plan B to handle the unforeseen in the future. With our upcoming session at the ETV Summer Workshops being limited to 15 participants and lasting 1.5 hours, I know that those 15 will get much more out of the presentation and you’ll feel much more positive about the experience.

    I certainly don’t want you to get so discouraged that you give up presenting. You have such a passion (and knowledge) for technology and its uses both personally and professionally, that your enthusiasm comes through and is catching.

  3. Thanks, Fran. I do understand that some teachers aren’t as comfortable with technology and that there is a need to have the basics at these conferences. I guess I just wish there were sessions for those who are more advanced.

    And I don’t take for granted that this conference is FREE and is awesome in it’s own right. I’m eternally grateful that this conference exists. If not, I wouldn’t have met so many new friends. And I have learned from each of the past three UTC’s I’ve attended.

    You are right we were caught off guard with so many people wanting to attend our session. We should have turned the extra folks away, even though that goes against our natures. I will say that even if we had closed the doors, we still wouldn’t have been able to keep to our original plan since we still wouldn’t have been able to circulate effectively.

    I didn’t mean for this reflections post to come across as so negative or to imply that the experience was all bad. I enjoyed the experience and the folks I spoke with after our presentation were very encouraging. I’m looking forward to our ETV session as well as my own solo session! Trust me, I know every audience and workshop will be different, even if you present the same materials.

    See you soon!

  4. I know you enjoyed the UTC experience; the discussion with like-minded friends concerning technology in education is invaluable, isn’t it?

    I agree – it goes against our nature (both personally and professionally as educators) to turn those away who wish to learn. That will make it hard at ETV, but one of us needs to stand at the door and be insistent.

    Because Cathy and I presented twice last year at UTC, I think that there wasn’t such a “rush” to get into the presentation. Next year, we need to plan on two sessions (yup, I said next year).

    I know that you will be an outstanding presenter at the ETV Summer Workshops. I just hate that I can’t attend your solo session!

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