Getting the Most out of SC EDTECH Day 1

This is my second time attending the SC EdTech Conference. If you have never been to a conference before, this one is a great one to start. It is a smaller sized conference to attend. And, who doesn't love a conference at the beach? I like this particular conference because the number of sessions for each time period is not overwhelming and I can normally find something that I can bring back to the coaches and teachers I work with. As an attendee, it’s a good thing to look a the sessions and see what is going to be available prior to even leaving town. Making a tentative plan will help you organize yourself for the conference. The sessions are available on the website, however, many conferences are now using a downloadable app that can help you personalize your conference. The bonus of using the app is to get recent updates and changes to the conference. There can be times a session you planned to attend may be canceled, getting that notification allows you to check out another session in advance rather than going to the door to see the “Canceled” sign.

It’s the morning of the first day. The lines were short to get my badge and waiting for every participant was breakfast, yes breakfast, and tables for some pre-conference networking. The first session started at 9:15am and our very own Pam Hanfland presented first thing this morning. The "oohs and ahhs" were heard from Meeting room 206, Increasing Your Productivity With Google Add-Ons. Her session was interactive, asking participants to download the add ons and practice with a the same document she is using. The group favorites were:

  • Formenate for Google Doc - A quick and simple way to get your questions and answers from a Google docs to Google form.  This add-on uses a numbered list in a doc to generate the questions and answers in a form.
  • Save As Doc - Convert any Google Sheets spreadsheet into a Google Document for improved legibility of lengthy cell text entered manually or through a Google Form submission.
  • Split Names - If you ever collected first and last names in different columns, this add-on will  "Split" to have them pulled out to separate cells.
  • QR Code Generator in Google Sheets - Create QR codes from values in Google Spreadsheets. You can generate multiple QR codes by selecting a range of values in a spreadsheet.

Lunchtime - OOPS!
We had a bit of a problem at lunch. Now, we were certainly given enough time to have a great lunch. We only walked about 2 blocks to get to the restaurant, but I think everyone else was having the same craving...BURGERS! We missed the session after lunch. I really wanted to attend the session about robotics in the math class. I had high hopes for getting some ideas for a few of our Technology Learning Coaches who are working on an innovation with computer science in the curriculum. Completely bummed out about missing it. Lesson learned, maybe hit the concession stand instead!

Designing Online Courses for All Learners with Universal Design for Learning

I attended this session to gain some better perspectives, ideas and strategies to designing or redesigning the online courses we offer in our district. I sometimes struggle to determine what to design and add to the course that will make it meaningful and relevant for the teachers. Our teachers don’t typically attend face to face trainings after school anymore, so we are trying to move the learning online so we are reaching all teachers anytime, any place. The presenter reviewed the idea of  Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, when creating your course; design the product, guarantee that every user will successfully engage in the product without accommodations. If you have not heard of UDL, it is using the method of thinking that requires multiple modes of engagement, representation, action/expression;

  • Engagement - the "why" of learning. It's critical to provide students with multiple ways to engage in the learning and stay motivated.
  • Representation - the "what" of learning. It's providing multiple means for students to access the content.
  • Action/expression - the "how" of learning, providing multiple means for students to practice and demonstrate their learning.

Bottom line -  offer flexibility and options into the course design for all types of learners.

Food for Thought:
So what happens when you attend a conference session and it’s not what you expected or wanted? There are 2 options; leave or stay. Some people think it’s pretty rude to up and leave while the presenter is talking. I kind of agree, so I sit closest to the door if I truly cannot sit in the session anymore. I try not to do that because I really feel bad. What you’ll find me doing instead is playing catch up on email or tasks, looking up once in awhile to show that I may be engaged in the content. For those of you who have been in that situation, what have you done?


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