I am tired but happy to be back with my family after returning from the 2009 South Carolina Educational Technology Conference in Myrtle Beach. The last three days have been a whirl of learning, connecting with old friends, and making new ones. Here are some of my thoughts and observations of the time I spent in Myrtle Beach in no particular order.
The biggest trend coming over the horizon is the use of mobile phones in the classroom. While this might not be a new idea, I believe many educators are rethinking their stance on their use. Okay, it not breaking news that almost every student has a mobile phone these days. However, instead of taking them away maybe we need to look at how we can use these devices in the classroom. Today's cellphones are essentially mini-computers. They can access vast amounts of information from the Internet and kids could probably type essays using their thumbs faster than writing them on paper. Of course rules would have to be set governing their use. With budget cuts reducing the availability of more computers in the classrooms this is an idea with more study.
Speaking of budget cuts and the economy, attendance was way down this year. Many of my friends around the state were not able to come. Vendors did not have the usual cool "schwag" you usually see at the conference. This could be a blessing in disguise. I had the pleasure of meeting many new people who I now communicate with over Twitter. Since the vendors did not have much to offer, there seemed to be more participation in the sessions.
I have challenged people to show me a serious educational use for Facebook I would consider it. Nobody took me up on my challenge until I saw how a USC-Sumter Economics professor used Facebook groups to extend class discussions to the popular social network site. The professor also used her groups on Facebook to give out class information too. I was so impressed I created a Facebook group for my school.
Congratulations to my good friends Mary Ann Sansonettie and Chris Craft on receiving the Making it Happen Award. This award was deserved to two educators who are passionate about using technology in teaching. Both educators are a great inspiration to me personally.
Hopefully, I will be back next year to help solve the great mystery which will be the theme for next year. Until then, I will be exploring many of the things I learned at this years conference. I hope to see everyone in Myrtle Beach next year.