“This is the Most Exciting Time!” Reflecting on #EdCampNJ & #NYSCATE15

Monday, November 30, 20152:26 PM

Last week was a busy one for me as I attended and presented at both #EdCampNJ and #NYSCATE15. At EdCampNJ, I hung out with friends new and old and helped lead sessions for #BreakoutEDU and #GoogleExpeditions. The highlight was definitely helping facilitate a discussion and demo of Expeditions with Dani and with Jonathan Rochelle from Google. Then, from Sunday to Tuesday, Dani and I drove way up Rochester for the New York State Computer and Technology in Education annual conference. NYSCATE is the NY ISTE affiliate, and this was probably the largest conference I’ve ever attended. We presented on backchanneling in the secondary classroom and you find our presentation here.

It was so cool to present with Jonathan, talk GAFE, and share Expeditions with so many teachers. We ran two sessions, and both were packed. He had 3D printed pencil toppers and logos of Expeditions and other Google Apps, which were so cool. It was great meeting new friends, reconnecting with the great NJ connected educators, and spending so much time with friends & #PLN. Another highlight was almost recording a live episode of The House of #EdTech with Chris Nesi and AJ Bianco. We had some technical difficulties, so our co-hosting never hit the airwaves, but we will try again soon.

At NYCATE, I also had a great time learning, connecting, and presenting. The highlight here was definitely listening to and connecting with great keynote speakers and leaders, like Jaime Casap, Tom Whitby, David Pogue, and Tom Murray.

Usually, I hate keynotes. Even when the speaker is engaging, I’m rarely sure it’s the best use of my time at a conference. I would rather choose my sessions, connect and network, and be in control of my learning. Usually. But these keynotes were different; Monday’s keynotes from David Pogue and Jaime Casap shined with their humor, humility, intelligence, and insights into the world, education, and technology. They truly made me laugh, reflect, and think to the future, and also provided the title for this post and the throughline for my reflection. Pogue focused on the role of disruptive technology and how technology, its changes, and impacts affect education. Casap empowered the audience, reminding us about our power as educators in today’s world. Both shared really timely thoughts about the role of technology and education for today’s Generation Z.

“This is the Most Exciting Time!”

David Pogue reminded us that while technology is disruptive and forcing change, that’s always been the case. Society has been always been afraid of or resistant to new technology. But change is scary, and fear can be a good motivator towards innovation and understanding. Whether it was fear of the airplane causing coronaries or the microwave’s cancer rays, fear of technology is a part of our world.

Jaime Casap, Google’s education evangelist, delivered the second keynote of the day, and the two complemented each other beautifully. He reminded us how much technology has evolved by asking, “Do you remember? We used to have to call the Internet. And the Internet was busy!” He focused his ideas on the power of education on his life and that of his students. According to Casap, we live in a world of iteration and creation--even Google is updated hundreds of times a year--and that world is constantly changing, requiring innovation and collaboration. “It’s a much more beautiful world when I don’t feel alone in it,” he so poignantly remarked.

Jaime's keynotes had so many great ideas, and a few that I’ve heard and often used in my own classroom and trainings, but didn’t even know came from him. By far the most powerful was his push to change the way we ask students about their futures:

Jaime Casap concluded: “This is the most exciting time. We are creating the future of education. We are just getting started.”

This is what stuck with me a week later. Whether it’s Google Expeditions, wearable and disruptive technology, or connecting and collaborating across the world, we are in a time of unprecedented innovation and change in education, in technology, and in the world. Both of these conferences, and these two keynotes in particular, left me exciting about the world we teach and learn in, but even more excited for the future. We are just getting started.

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