Six years ago I attended NECC in San Diego. The two things that I remember from my very first edtech conference are the 4th of July fireworks show and Steve Hargadon‘s Open Source Pavilion. NECC 2006 was one of those pivotal moments in my professional education career where I realized there were a bunch of other educators out there that believed technology was important to education. It set me on a journey of exploration and discovery of technology in education in my role as an education technology leader. It’s also probably where I first saw Jim Klein’s Life 2.0 presentation which fundamentally altered my view as an IT Director of technology and education. I went back to my district and immediately started setting up open source LTSP computer labs and installing Open Office.
Fast forward six years and I’ve become fully engaged in the edtech community. First I started by attending conferences where I saw David Thornburg speak about the future of technology in education and was told that I teach kids and not business apps by Chris Lehmann. I watched Jon Corippo demonstrate 100 free web 2.0 tools in 50 minutes. I’ve seen Jim Klein‘s message about Life 2.0 become ever more relevant and watched teachers like Chris Scott, Diane Main and Matthew Schwartz grow into their own as edtech influentials. I created a twitter account in 2007 and then took about a year to figure out how to use it to build my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I became a classroom teacher, joined CUE, became a presenter at IT and edtech conferences on google apps, IT, open source and other topics, I started a podcast about edtech with my former co-worker Danny Silva and implemented 1:1 linux #ubermix netbooks and 1:1 iPads. I was selected to become a Google Certified Teacher and met awesome edtech leaders like Adam Bellow and James Sanders. I got taken to school on YouTube and Video for the classroom by Mr. Video himself Jim Sill. I had my teachers classroom’s flipped by Ramsey Musallam and his flipteaching.com website.
NECC 2006 got me excited about edtech and helped me see the possibilities that were out there. It ignited a passion and a drive to do something more. Since then it has been a roller coaster ride of new technology and new experiences. My primary focus has shifted from keeping servers up and running to empowering teachers and students with technology in the classroom. The zero server server room is within reach for schools of all sizes and with limited resources it makes sense to focus what little we have where it matters most. In the classroom.
Now I’m back in San Diego for ISTE 2012. With my recent job changes, I almost didn’t make it but I’m really glad that I did. While the name may have changed from six years ago, I’m confident the impact this experience will have on me won’t. There has never been a more exciting time to be talking about technology and education. We’re solidly into the 21st Century. Technology is becoming disruptive and enabling pedagogy and learning opportunities that didn’t even exist five years ago. I have been privileged to be the IT Guy with access to amazing California ed tech professionals that are redefining education through the innovative use of technology every day. My plan for this international experience is to further broaden my horizons, meet twitter friends in real life, listen, learn, connect, take back and share. I hope everyone attending does the same.