November 2007 marked my return to NYSCATE after many years. I hadn’t gone since the NHEEP consortium which financed participation in the conferences dissolved. Energized by putting together our school website on a shoestring with third party webhosting and open sourced software, I wanted to share, so I proposed a presentation and it was accepted.
Presenting at NYSCATE was rewarding. I felt that participants genuinely valued what I was presenting. Many were technically oriented teachers from small districts where “many hats.” One was still using static html pages for their school website and was excited to find another option–open source content management systems that were easier to manage and update. Others found it refreshing to attend a presentation were nobody had something to sell. Still another remarked that the presentation was the highlight of the conference for him. One disappointment was that even though I left the door open for further communication through this website (the moodle portion), none took advantage. I’d like to know if attending my presentation led to any real change. Finally, with the presentation, scheduled for the last day, I found it difficult to focus on the rest of the conference.
The one big thing I took from NYSCATE was that if I didn’t start trying out web 2.0 applications as a user, that I would never “get” it. I dutifully signed up for NYSCATE’s Ning and Twitter. As a result, I found other Ning communities and have become particularly active in Classroom20. I also started this blog. The blog led to an exploration of tags, technorati, and new ways to connect with others. I am still in touch with a few people that I met there. Of course, it also led to setting up blogs for my class and my students.
Overall, participating in NYSCATE’s annual conference was a very important experience that has changed my teaching. I look forward to participating again next year as an attendee and presenter.