Tuesday, February 17, 2009

TCEA Reflections

What do you get when you combine 8,000+ talented educators passionate about technology integration with Austin flair? Texas Computer Educators Association, of course! What talent! What passion! What opportunities!
Educators from across Texas and other states assembled the week of February 2-6 in Austin, Texas to look, listen, and learn from the best presenters in the state. Many attendees and presenters are seasoned convention go-ers and they stand ready to help out the newbies navigate the monstrous convention center and exhibit hall. I'll admit I was overwhelmed my first year. This was my third year to attend and each time I experience new learning. Many great bookmarks have been added to my delicious bookmarks. My TCEA backpack contents are sitting on the corner of my desk at school and everyday I uncover new software or sites in its contents. I'll share more as I dig to the bottom of the TCEA pile.
It was my privilege to meet up with my Twitter peeps leeanne, mr. martins class, eplybon, and langwitches. It was truly a blessing to see you again or meet you for the first time. You all seem like best buddies. Langwitches live-blogged my session, so if you missed it, you might want to catch the gist of my presentation on her February 4 post. Several of the Notebook files I presented are posted on the SMART Exchange in the Texas Downloads folder. In fact, many files have been uploaded from other presenters at both TCEA and the Dallas Area Users' Conference. You have to join (free) but then you're able to download from any of the folders and upload your own files. Let's work together to make the Texas folder the biggest and best by uploading our SMART Notebook and SMART Ideas lessons.
One comment I heard was that very few laptops were being used during the sessions to capture notes and sites. Let's compare: paper vs. laptop. Paper is portable and so are laptops. Paper and laptops both have the note capture ability. But the biggest reason I think so few laptops were seen was not the burden of a laptop's added weight, it was the bad reputation of wonky internet and low bandwidth the convention center has earned. This year internet access was much improved over years past. We can only hope those issues continue to get better for the following years. On another note, handouts from most of the concurrent sessions and workshops are now posted on the TCEA website for your downloading pleasure. I counted over 120 free presentation files that Texas educators have shared with the world.
Being a SMART Trade Show Teacher at their booth provided many fun moments and opportunities to network with fellow teachers. One high school teacher in particular spent an hour and a half one afternoon peppering me with questions. His students are going to LOVE what he learned. Many other teachers dropped by to say they enjoyed my session and thanked me for the inspiration. It's always nice to be appreciated. Perhaps I need to be more than 200 miles from home more often. Surrounded by the SMART Education Consultants, Software Specialists and other Show Personnel in the booth made for a pleasurable learning environment. The SMART Daily Drawing is an event not to be missed. A huge throng of people gathered with the common hope of winning one of the SMART Boards or other SMART products given away each day. Texans know how to party!
TCEA was a great oppotunity to share with others and learn from the rest. I'm already making plans for next year. In fact, TCEA Call for Participation opened this week for those wishing to submit a proposal for next year's conference. Maybe I'll see you there!

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