3. The Spotlight Feature sessions. Centered in the main ballroom, these sessions included authors such as Tom Vander Ark, Ted Dintersmith, and Neil Pasricha, all of whom focused on the great work that lies ahead of us as edtech leaders. Milton Chen from Edutopia highlighted how national parks can be our best outdoor classrooms. The Deep Learning (machines) + Deeper Learning (humans) session by Charles Fadel talked about the what and whys of exponential learning for our students. Future Ready Schools continues to be the focus as Thomas Murray talked about student-centered learning.
4. How the sessions were categorized. The general sessions were broken up by tracks focusing on district type: international, large districts, and small districts. I found these tracks invaluable as I built my schedule. I attended sessions in which I had rich discussions and shared information with colleagues who have similar challenges and opportunities. While these tracks identified district types, there were a few common themes throughout the conference, including connectivity, data security, and student privacy.
5. The events. In addition to the extensive general and spotlight sessions, there were other opportunities. I had the honor to attend the CoSN State Leaders Day on Sunday. I, along with my fellow Massachusetts Educational Technology Administrators board members, collaborated with other state CoSN affiliate leaders in roundtable discussions. We focused on relevant topics such as how to engage rural districts, advocacy, increasing CoSN affiliate memberships, and partnerships with local businesses. We all left the event energized with resources and strategies that we will bring back to our states and districts.
6. Unconferencing. This increasingly popular format offers educators the opportunity to brainstorm and collaborate around topics of educational interest. How cool was it for CoSN18 to take this format and set up a CoSN Camp? Campfire settings around the main ballroom floor were complete with s’mores, lanterns, and fireside seating. Topics included Making Classroom Materials Accessible for All Students, Leading Mindfully, and Global Lessons from the Interconnected World of Edtech. Featured speakers such as Ted Dintersmith, Tom Vander Ark, and Darryl Adams spent time at the CoSN Camp, talking with attendees about innovation and the future of education.
7. The ability to laugh at ourselves. During FailFest 2018, three brave technology directors (who will not be identified to protect their reputations) stood up in front of their colleagues and humbly talked about a major fail in their district. The audience voted on the biggest failure by shouting and blowing noisemakers. We could all relate to their experiences and look forward to being crowned FailFest Champion in 2019.
8. The consistent focus on education for technology leaders. We are all in the edtech business because we believe in the development of teacher leaders and the challenging of our students to exceed even their highest expectations. CoSN exemplifies and supports these beliefs through two programs: the NextGen Leaders program, which recognizes and mentors up-and-coming edtech leaders who are leveraging technology to create and grow engaging learning environments; and the Certified Education Technology Leader (CETL) program, in which CoSN supported the high standards outlined in the K-12 Frameworks of Essential Skills for K-12 CTOs by providing certification training and onsite testing at the event. New CETLs were honored at a breakfast and recognized at the opening plenary.
If you missed CoSN18, fear not! You’ll just have to go to CoSN19 in Portland, Oregon on April 1-4, 2019. See you there!
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