In 2007, I attended the Midwest Educational Technology Conference in St. Louis, Missouri on the request of my principal since we were piloting the eMINTS program at the high school. At the time, it was the first edtech conference I had attended. Though I was already innovating my classroom, this was the first time I was exposed to a conference surrounded by innovation. And, it changed me.
For the first two years, I sat back and gathered information. I soaked it in and I took back a couple of ideas to try in the classroom. Gradually, I worked up the courage to apply to present. And, that moment changed me as well.
Before long, I was presenting at a variety of conferences on digital storytelling. But, during the conferences, I attended sessions and still soaked in new information. I was still very much an attendee who happened to present. I also was not networking.
But, at some point, that changed. And, I went from attending conferences to learn new ideas and innovate my classroom to being a leader at the conference, giving ideas and networking. Is this the process we expect all educators to go through? While I enjoy attending some sessions at conferences, I find I use Twitter, Google +, and other online communities to learn and innovate daily that I do not go to conferences to sit in sessions. Rather, I go to conferences to engage in quality discussions with other educators and to lead.
So, at point to we change roles from attendee to innovator? Does everyone change? Does everyone need to change? Is it our goal to at least move all educators from stand-alone teachers to conference attendees with the hope they will change their role?
What role do you play at conferences?