If you're not in attendance, then you are missing out on some great sessions on instructional technology: Google-free searching, wikis in the elementary classroom, web 2.0 tools, web gadgets, E-rate, online professional development, video in the classroom, student response systems, 3D virtual worlds, and a host of other topics.
If you're not in attendance, then you are missing out on some great speakers: Gail Lovely, Hall Davidson, Kevin Honeycutt, Leslie Fisher, Clif Mims, Kathy Schrock, Alice Yucht.
And Ron Clark. Yes, Ron Clark. You know, the former Disney Teacher of the Year, subject of biopic movie, and founder of The Ron Clark Academy. That Ron Clark, the eastern NC boy making a difference for kids.
What does he have to do with instructional technology? Well, not as much as I had expected. But man, is he infectious and inspiring and enthusiastic and passionate....okay, he's like an educator on speed to hear him speaking about children and teaching. And his reminder: if you don't like kids, you need to quit teaching!
While you may not be willing to get up and act "the fool" for the sake of education with your students, it's his out of the box thinking that makes the difference. And for many of our colleagues using instructional technology tools is out of the box thinking. The problem is if you are not a school librarian who integrates technology tools to enhance instruction then you might need another job. To paraphrase Ron, if you don't like technology, you need to quit being a school librarian in the 21st century!
Ron reminded us that technology motivates, inspires, and engages kids. And folks, remember that good teaching is still good teaching. But enhancing that instruction with technology tools can be the difference for some students.
Ron's best advice: "We don't have time for fear, and we don't have time to be afraid. We gotta go for it, live for it."
If that means trying some new technologies, taking a risk with your students, making a difference for kids, then you need to step out of the box and try it.
It will make all the difference in the world!