Monday, May 6, 2013

Looking Forward to a Summer of eLearning

Educators know that we don't "take summers off." Our summers are filled with professional learning and preparation for our next group of learners. I love how optimistic my fellow educators are as they look forward to a new year, a clean slate, a new opportunity to make learning better for kids. So even though we have a few more weeks left in this year that will include all kinds of extra work and messed-up schedules, and even though we are in the throws of the foolishness that is state testing, I know that more than a few of my colleagues are already imagining the joyous work that will take place from June through August. They are registering for summer classes, planning trips to places where they will buy supplies for their classrooms, and purchasing the books for their summer reading projects. And here in Indiana, they are registering for summer eLearning conferences.

It's kind of cool that our Department of Education has created this opportunity for educators. They call it the Summer of eLearning, a series of 17 conferences that spans the state and that takes place all summer long. Because they've offered grants to the schools and districts that host these events, the cost to attend them is affordable for teachers, and those teachers are signing up. Imagine that. Teachers from all over the state making plans to use their "time off" to collaborate, connect and learn. That's pretty cool. You can learn all about the Summer of eLearning at the IDOE eLearning website. I hope you will consider attending one or more of these great events if you have the time and can make the trip.

I'm planning on attending five of the conferences myself, including our district's eRevolution Conference on July 10 and 11. This will be the 5th Annual eRevolution, and we've been planning this event since last August. Last year we drew more than 900 attendees from more than 90 school districts, universities, and other organizations from as far away as Texas. We anticipate doing the same this year, and we have so many great things to offer our attendees. The following are just a few highlights:

Learning Strands and Sessions
The eRevolution conference offers more than 200 concurrent sessions, workshops, special sessions and panel discussions organized around 5 Learning strands: Leadership in the Digital Age, Innovative Learning Models, 21st Century Standards and Skills, ActivTeaching, and Building your Digital Toolbox. We have sessions for every level of learner and every area of interest represented in our offerings.

Keynotes and Featured Speakers

The eRevolution boasts an impressive lineup of keynotes and featured speakers including Adam Bellow, Yong Zhao, Eric Sheninger, Leslie Fisher, and Meg Ormiston, as well as other EdTech leaders from across the state and nation. At the same time, we have dozens of sessions led by talented classroom and school leaders who can speak directly to the experiences of teachers and administrators.

Leadership 2.0 Experience
This year, we’ve added an experience tailored specifically for building and district-level administrators that begins on Wednesday, July 10th with a special 2-hour Leadership 2.0 session, facilitated by Eric Sheninger. Then, the Leadership strand will join the rest of the conference for the Keynote by Adam Bellow, followed by lunch and a special Connected Educator Panel, featuring Eric Sheninger, Adam Bellow, and Meg Ormiston, moderated by Michelle Green, eLearning Development Specialist with the Indiana Department of Education.  Day 1 of the Leadership 2.0 experience will conclude with a selection of additional sessions focused on the needs of Digital Age administrators. Additionally, we have several Leadership sessions scheduled throughout the day on Thursday, July 11.

Serious Play!
Several features of the eRevolution are designed to emphasize collaboration and exploration, including our Technology Playground, Digital Detox Zone, Digital Sandbox, and Learning Commons. Further, we’ve loaded the schedule with App and Web Tool shootouts, Tweet-ups, Giveaways and more!

High Value and Affordability
One of our goals is to always provide a conference that is affordable and offers high value to educators. This year, we’ve managed to keep the cost down to only $50 for the entire 2-day experience that includes continental breakfast and catered lunch both days, access to all conference events, and 14 Indiana Professional Growth Points. Also, our close proximity to Louisville (1.5 hours), Nashville (2 hours), St. Louis (3 hours) and Indianapolis (3 hours) means that you can save on travel costs as well. Our passion for quality and affordability pays off. 99% of respondents to last year’s post conference survey indicated that they would recommend the EVSC eRevolution Conference to a colleague, and 97% rated the conference as having good or very high value. Additionally, last year’s conference was nominated for a Leadership Evansville Award in the category of Education. Finally, the eRevolution was selected as one of this year’s Summer of eLearning conferences by the Indiana Department of Education.

I didn't really plan to write a promotional piece, but we are very proud of the eRevolution, and we would welcome your participation. You can register at our website.

Even if you can't participate in the Summer of eLearning, I hope that if you are an educator, you will enjoy your own time to learn and prepare. And if you aren't an educator, I hope that it comes as no surprise to you that a teacher's work is a year-round commitment, even if the students won't be back until August.

photo credit: cmcgough via photopin cc

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