NETA 2015 Reflections and Takeaways

Last week I made my first trek to the NETA (Nebraska Educational Technology Association) conference.  As part of my goal to connect with other educators in the midwest, I had presented at TIES in Minnesota in December and was very happy to be able to present at NETA which was in Omaha.  I had connected with some great educators in Nebraska, some who were even the ones putting on the conference, and thought this would be a great way to connect with others.

My goal with any conference is to have some takeaways that I can implement in the near future.  This is usually an easy thing as many conferences have such a variety of sessions that you can easily get something for your individual needs.  My big takeaways were enforced by the awesome keynotes by Adam Bellow and George Couros.  I had listened to both of them before and I was excited to get to hear them again as they do inspire me to be better.  They both talked about relationships and how technology can help our learners.    You can go back to my tweets to see how much I shared out from what they were saying, so many great ideas and statements that we can all take away and use.

Takeaway 1:  We need more sharing and collaboration!

  • One of my goals for this school year was to create ways our teachers could easily share and collaborate together.  I work in a larger school and our teachers do not get a lot of time to work with others from different departments but yet there is a lot of great stuff happening.  We could easily learn from each other and use each other as resources.  I created a Google+ Community where teachers could quickly post what they are doing and even ask questions and help of each other.  I also created a page on our AHS Tech site that includes examples of what is going on in the classrooms at our school.  I am going to keep looking at how we can improve the sharing and collaborating what is happening in our schools.  We need to celebrate those instances of success and we need to be able to use each other to learn.  Isolation is a choice people make and it is not a good choice.

Takeaway 2: Digital Citizenship needs to be front and center!

  • George Couros did a great job of talking about digital citizenship and why it is important.  It is also a topic that may get ignored or hurt through the act of blocking/banning.  If we do not explicitly teach digital citizenship, we should not be surprised when students (as well as staff and parents) make poor decisions online that can greatly impact their present and future.  Our students are going to enter into a world where their digital footprint may be looked at by future employers before they even look at their resume.  We do our students an injustice when we do not address digital citizenship and help them become better digital citizens.  We do a grave injustice when we think we are doing something positive by blocking sites such as Facebook or YouTube.  Our job should be to teach and not block.  I will be looking at how we can still improve our understanding of digital citizenship and what we can put in place for next year to help our students.

2 smaller takeaways

  • NETA had at least one room set up in a way that allowed for easy collaboration and discussion.  Instead of rows of chairs, there were about 6 round tables in the middle with chairs lining the walls.  This made it very easy to have group discussions and get a lot more participation than in a traditional conference setup.  I really enjoyed this.
  • I need to think about how I take notes at conferences and find a better way.  I usually just use a Google Doc to write down ideas and then use an IFTTT recipe to record all of my favorites during the conference in a Google Doc.  I can share some of these out but I want to find a way that I can record thoughts, ideas, resources, and anything else in a way that is helpful to me but also in a way that I can share out with others more easily.  I do not think sketchnotes are something I can use effectively but I will play around with some different ideas before I head to ISTE in June.

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