Friday, June 29, 2012

What is it like to be an EdTech Link fellow?

This is a question I could not answer four days ago.  Now that I have spent the last week with this unique group of Baltimore teachers, surrounded by some of the most innovative thinkers in the fields of technology and education at the ISTE 2012 conference in San Diego, I think I am starting to understand what this "job" is all about.  I realized a few things about myself, but also about the endless stream of possibilities that are being put in front of me.  So, this is what it has been like to be an EdTech fellow:

1. You get to travel to paradise (San Diego) to attend the International Society for Technology in Education.  You get to travel here because if you want a team of teachers to flourish, you surround them with the most innovative thinkers in the field.  Us teachers, we just need to know that these ideas exist, that we are supported in our own crazy ideas, and then we are able to start creating on our own.  ISTE has allowed me to see what is possible.

2.  You spend all day flying across the country, and just when you think you cannot survive with resting, you get called to a quacking "meeting" in the co-exective directions room.  Huffing and puffing, you walk down to the room, only to find a brand new Mac Book Air awaiting you, accompanied by beautiful business cards for you to use to start networking.  Mind blown.

 3.  You get to spend three full days working with, collaborating, listening, and watching some of the most innovative ideas and their implementation that is happening around the world in the classroom.  You attend sessions given by education start-ups, teachers, researchers, computer programmers, software companies, and people that believe that we cannot wait around for someone to transform our educational system.  You get to be a part of a global network of people that care about education and that care about each other.

4.  In addition to spending all day at this magical land of learning, we sent the night hanging out at the Start-Up after party, hosted by the founders of Educreations, Class Dojo, and Remind101.  These guys are impressive; getting to know about them and their true mission to improve learning through technology is refreshing and inspiring.  As an EdTech Link fellow, you also get invited to the Google After Party.  This is an impressive event involving all the big-names at the conference and a bunch of free swag.  You can see the pictures below, they basically explain our evening.

5. As an EdTech Link fellow, you also gain (in four days) a tightly-woven network of people that all have common goals.  This is the kind of group that is able to sit around and "think-aloud."  These sessions tend to be the most invigorating part of working in a network.  You get a group of people that get it, and they get you.  You get the EdTech fellows on your team.  This is a group that morphed from relative strangers to a group diabolically working to get our flight switched at the last minute to spend three extra days in California (I still stand-by my prediction that I was only two "supervisors" away from making this happen!).  As an EdTech Link fellow, the adventures never end because we are constantly creating new paths.

In addition to everything that we gained from ISTE, I know I am starting to discover new aspects of myself as a teacher, learner, leader, and collaborator in this process.  I am in this fellowship because I believe there news to be a fundamental shift in the way we incorporate technology into the classroom.   The world has been revolutionized by technology, what is the hold-up in the classroom?  Andrew Coy said it in a conversation when he commented that our students' lives are so drastically disconnected from what happens in school that education has become irrelevant to them.  Let's start making it relevant.  

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