We’re a couple of weeks removed from the hype, bustle and seemingly endless sales pitch that we call ISTE (don’t get me wrong, I love ISTE for the connections it affords) and my brain is still full from the ideas and conversations that I downloaded there. After not being at ISTE for a couple of years, it was invigorating (sales pitch types notwithstanding) to be part of the global conversations – the big buzz!
However, this weekend will be special. Saturday I get to head back to where it all started for me – Memphis, Tennessee and Lausanne Collegiate School’s Laptop Institute. First of all, I have to tell you, I have been to my share of events but the Laptop Institute is still my favorite. The folks at Lausanne are amazing hosts, the conversations are focused on shifting how we teach and learn using the power of connectivity, and the organization leaves nothing wanting. With around 600 delegates, the event is intimate enough that you feel like to have an opportunity to follow up on the conversations at a later time and not get lost in the sheer size of the conference around you. If you have an opportunity and are considering one-to-one or tech rich programs, this is the event for you.
Six years ago I was teaching in a pilot 1:1 classroom at my school. It was just by happenstance that I ended up at the Memphis event (it was – at least at the time – a consolation prize for giving up a January trip to FETC) with my teaching partner at the time. I wasn’t sure what to expect – we seemed to be doing OK with incorporating the laptops into our classroom – so we intended to enjoy ourselves.
Boy, was I blindsided. At the opening keynote some old guy comes on stage and starts talking about new understandings about literacies and forms of information. My first reaction was to continue answering my email, but as he continued talking my focus shifted from my digital connection to a real connection with his ideas. I had never quite heard ideas quite like it before. He was talking about a whole new story of school. I was, in the space of an hour, blown away by his ideas and what it meant for me as a teacher. The “old guy” on stage was Dave Warlick.
Later that day I had a chance to talk to Dave on the bus to the hotel and we began a great friendship. From that connection grew a new set of personal ideas about the possibilities for school, connections to other authors and educators, two visits by Dave to my home province where I was so proud to introduce him to my colleagues, my own start in blogging and eventually the journey has led me to where I am today – promoting and supporting change with teachers and students in our schools.
I have been back to Memphis every year since, sometimes alone, sometimes not. Last year was particularly gratifying as I was able to lead a delegation of 13 educators from my school as we were featured as the Spotlight School for the conference. This year I am excited to be leading two workshops and 5 presentations over the two days on topics ranging from “Ten Secrets About Wikispaces” and “Learning to Blog: Blogging to Learn” to “Global Collaborative Projects” and “Digital Footprints: Building a Personal Brand on the Web”. It’ll be a busy two days, but I am excited to be heading back to see old friends and make new ones.
This year’s event is particularly special as it will take me right back to where it all began for me – Dave Warlick is the keynote once again. I have heard Dave speak many times since that day six years ago, but I always learn something new each time. I am sure as I settle into my seat for the keynote in the beautiful theatre on campus my memories will reflect back on my journey and the amazing side trip I began in that very spot. There might even be a tear in my eye.
Hope to see you in Memphis. Will you be the next member of my PLN?