Thursday, February 6, 2014

Why I Present at Ed Tech Conferences

Two weeks I drove 150 miles to Grand Rapids in order to make a presentation at an education conference.  Next month I'll visit the same venue to make a different presentation at a different conference.  I have three others scheduled between now and June.  I will get anxious about each one as the time approaches. Preparing will be a lot of work, and it will be expensive to go to a couple of them.  Also, I will be quite relieved when each one is over.

So why do it?
Photo by Joanna Montgomery, 1/22/14

Actually, the reasons have more to do with pushing myself than vanity. Unless specifically asked to do so, I generally do not repeat presentation topics.  Instead I select projects I have begun and form a presentation proposal around them.  This is true for my upcoming MACUL and ISTE conference presentations.  Both presentation proposals were inspired by iTunes U courses that I was developing at the time.  "Empowering Your iWizards" (MACUL) was inspired by Create a Student Tech Team at Your School. "Becoming A Digital School Administrator" was derived directly from the course with the same name.

I played a little trick on myself in both instances:  The proposal acceptances motivated me to bring both up to date with fresh materials. 

Yes, vanity has something to do with this, but networking is part of the equation as well.  Once one of my proposals is accepted, I am more certain to attend the conference.  And then the conferences often inspire the next set of projects. My ideas for both iTunes U courses were hatched at last year's ISTE conference.  The digital administrator course was inspired by a throw-away line at a presentation I attended.  The idea for the tech team course originated from a conversation I had with attendees following my presentation.

I guess the bottom line is that presenting keeps me plugged in to the greater ed tech community and helps me stay relevant to the greater conversation. 

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