Being a new teacher is tough especially in this gap in your Technology training. What you learn in school to teach in school doesn’t necessarily reflect the technology you will end up using in your classroom. I experienced the gap from high school to college and even college to my job today. Technology is already beginning to break Moore’s Law and are no signs of it being captured or jailed. It’s on the lamb you could say! While there may be in-service days for professional development, the best advice is this that I have heard from educators in recent months, “the best professional development is that which is self-taught”. Still a tough order to fill when your not really sure where to look other than on your Twitter or Pinterest. One easy place is the technology expos that come around and that you might have the ability to attend. Of course the amount of activity is immense, there are multiple things going on at the same time, and typically only a few days or maybe an afternoon to get all you need to survive the next year. If your using Twitter for staying up-to-date, you are off to a great start. I wanted to share the power of Twitter on preparing for your next technology expo you will be attending. Here are a few things you can do to make the most out of your excursion.
Do your social research before the event
- Find hashtags to keep in the conversation. Hashtags are links typically found on Twitter and Instagram used to create searchable conversations. Find the Expos hashtag #FETC, #TCEA, #PETEC, #ISTE so you can be part of the crowd. A good place to find talk is #EdTech, #EdTechChat, or maybe #NTChat, which may have brought you here since I used that hashtag for this post when I tweeted it out.
- Know what you like and dislike to use. Go into your classroom and look at the equipment you love and even that which you hate. Seek the representatives for these brands at the expo out and see what is new, what they have improved or maybe what you missed or didn’t know was possible. @LumensLadiBug (#InfoComm15 – Booth 2973) document cameras and @HALprojectors (#InfoComm15 – Booth 3912) are common items in classrooms. Seek these folks out and see what great things they are STILL doing with newer technologies like Apple TV, flat panel displays, iPads and Chromebooks.
- Look for people mentioning the expos hashtag and connect with thought leaders. Typically the speakers are educators talking about revolutionary things that they do that have gotten their school awarded and recognized. They are definitely trying to cause a buzz and a stir, so maximize you Read there tweets, view their bios and follow those who value the same thoughts you do in educating today’s students. I myself look for those who mention #GoogleAppsforEdu and #Chromebooks and I find my best insights in what instructional technologists and information officers have to say.
During the expo and over the days it occurs
- Have a landing page (to really get the most out of your time) beyond your Twitter. Having some kind of URL to share, be it your LinkedIn, Blog, or distinct website or tech blog is great for long-term connections and “deep” sharing. While for use at the expo is great, make sure to keep in touch with those top thought leaders. Tweet this URL using relevant tags you were/have been seeing. A great idea is to ask questions via a Quora profile or Ask.fm. True subject matter experts are looking here to answer questions to be known as subject matter experts, so it is a win-win with your participation.
- Check the news feed after events and right before. Lots of companies are giving away prizes and sharing the links to click and sign-up. It saves schools tons of money on technology if you can outfit a classroom or two fit a free interactive whiteboard of rolling flat-panel display. This is where you will continue conversations with thought leaders or maybe find a reason to attend something over what you had planned. I say stick with what you plan, but then again, you never know what you might discover. #Badging was something I recently learned a ton about and might not have had I not been listening to what the buzz was.
**Not relating to Twitter, but always bring a tote bag since one may not be provided for all your swag like USB drives, pens, and other gadgets. Also remember to bring a bandana or disposable head cloth for testing wearable technologies in case the booth runs out of sanitary wipes or for just a little extra precaution. Going to an expo without a clear mission is like going fishing without the pole. The body of knowledge to fish from is vast if you bring the right tools to the table. If you can learn to use it right, Twitter can be a great way to connect with people, even outside the expo use.
Photo Credit: http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2013/03/printable-list-best-education-hashtags-infographic