This week many of my former instructional technology colleagues gathered for the South Carolina Educational Technology Conference. This was the second year in a row that the conference was held in Greenville, and it’s being right here in my back yard presented a unique set of problems.
Last year before deciding to retire, I had submitted proposals for two talks at EdTech. I had submitted my usual Google Earth presentation, and the latest presentation I had been doing on creating music on iOS devices. With all of the hoopla surrounding my departure, I forgot about my submissions, until I saw a posting on Facebook. Since I didn’t have access to my district e-mail, I didn’t know if they had accepted my proposals. Google Earth wouldn’t be an issue, but if they selected the iPad presentation that was going to be a problem. I don’t have access to an iPad anymore.
Once the session schedule was posted this summer I logged on and saw that they had selected the Google Earth presentation, but not the iPad presentation. I would have preferred doing the latter under normal circumstances, but in this situation it was OK. I sent an e-mail saying that my e-mail had changed and that they needed to update their contact info. Then I waited.
Nothing. Didn’t hear back from them, and I didn’t know whether or not they were still expecting me to present. When the conference time came, I made preparations for my Google Earth talk. I’ve given this one so many times that I could just about do it in my sleep. In fact, I was hoping to phase the presentation out in favor of other talks, should I continue to do this. I toyed with the idea of just skipping out altogether, but I didn’t think that would be cool. I still have some pretty raw emotions about anything instructional technology related. However, I decided I could still be a professional, and I still had worthwhile knowledge to impart.
I started by updating my presentation, first removing any reference to the district. Some of my resource files were on my school Google account, and were on longer available, but it was easy enough to recreate them. Part of the problem, though, is that parts of Google Earth that used to work so well now seem broken. A key part of my presentation is describing how online media can be embedded into Google Earth placemarks. That just wasn’t working. I finally got enough of it working so that I could embed enough items (SoundCloud, AudioBoo, etc) to make the presentation worthwhile, but I couldn’t get any video to work.
The time for the conference arrived. For whatever reason I had it in my head that I was presenting on Wednesday. Turns out it was Thursday, necessitating my schedule alteration for the state fair. I decided I would only go for the morning of my presentation, but nothing more than that.
I showed up at the TD center and walked to the presenters’ registration booth. They were happy to see me, and were wondering if I was going to show up. I told them I had sent the e-mail, but no one apparently got it. They hadn’t printed a badge for me, so they were going to do one on the spot. They asked for my title, and I told them to leave it blank. They asked for my organization, and told them to leave that blank, too. I guess I could have made up something, but I just wasn’t feeling creative.
I first walked into the exhibit hall, and it was totally weird. I saw lots of friends and colleagues, and it was great saying hello to them. Many of these were vendors with whom I’ve done lots of business over the years. I told one of them that it was kind of refreshing just walking through to say hello without expecting any follow-up sales calls or any other obligations. Bryan Pigford from Camcor showed me a really cool new document camera, and I ran into another vendor with a Phantom Quadcopter with a GoPro. I lamented (somewhat) that I wasn’t going to be able to buy stuff like this now.
I was pleased to see that one of my former schools won the TIP Award for this past year. Abner Creek Academy had won, and several of the teachers and principal were on hand to receive the award. I also saw many more of my friends from around the state. I passed out lots of my cards with my updated contact info.
Time for my presentation eventually came. I was amazed at the size of the room I was in – it would easily seat a couple hundred. That many did not show up – closer to 60, which was still a good number. However, things did not start smoothly. First I couldn’t get the projector to talk to my Mac. Then I couldn’t get connected to the Internet, and there was no tech help to be found. At least, officially. With an audience of techies, I had plenty of suggestions.
Finally I got things going, and was able to get through most of my presentation before time ran out. The audience seemed seemed very receptive, and I got some good questions at the end. If this was to be my last EdTech presentation, I was glad I was going out on a high note.
I took one more spin through the exhibit hall. It was a little bittersweet. I don’t know if I’ll submit a proposal next year. In fact I kind of doubt it, especially if it’s back down at Myrtle Beach or someplace like that. Still, it was good to see everyone and give one last presentation.