Tuesday, October 4, 2016

#cuenv16

This past weekend, CUE-NV hosted our State Technology Conference at Western High School in Las Vegas.  Months and months of planning went into making the conference a success, with several people putting in countless hours of work recruiting presenters/topics, vendors, preparing a budget, organizing sessions, ordering food and supplies, and advertising what we were planning to be a can't miss conference.  Overall, after a couple of days of decompressing and not having to think about the planning phases any more, I was able to take some time and evaluate the conference, celebrate what went well, think about what we could do better, and begin the planning stage of next year's conference (which, by the way, is already set for September 29-30, register now for a super early bird rate of $69, which includes a CUE membership, breakfast, and lunch).  On the whole, I couldn't be happier with how well the conference went, I met some amazing people and learned some things that I can take back to my job and my position as vice president of CUE-NV.  

The conference consisted of two keynote speakers, an opening, and a closing.  Sarah Thomas (@sarahdateechur) opened the conference on Friday evening, motivating attendees and starting the learning fire that would be the next 36 hours.  Dozens of sessions on a wide range of educational topics ensued, with two hour-long sessions on Friday night and five throughout the day on Saturday.  Attendees were treated to breakfast before the Saturday festivities and a great lunch that was sponsored by Lexia (@LexiaLearning). A technology slam took place during lunch where seven educators presented various techy programs or apps, with the audience judging the winner (yours truly won the Tech Slam with a rousing presentation of Timesify... if you haven't heard of it, I highly suggest you do a quick Google search!).  Between sessions and during lunch, attendees were able to learn about some of the latest and greatest in the world of education from 14 vendors that took time out of their busy schedules to come to Las Vegas and promote their products.  Justin Schleider (@SchleiderJustin) wrapped up the learning on Saturday afternoon with a very inspiring closing keynote that highlighted the importance of being critical consumers of information.  Finally, my partner in crime, CUE-NV President Heidi Carr (@carr_8) and I wrapped things up with some information about future events and a giveaway of some awesome prizes like t-shirts, licenses for products like Pear Deck, SnagIt, and Camtasia, registrations to future CUE-NV events and the CUE National conference, and two Chromebooks.  

We also had a surprise visitor show up to the conference on Saturday afternoon.  Amanda Haughs (@MsHaughs), a PLN colleague in which I had interacted on several occasions via #tosachat, messaged the #tosachat Voxer group to announce that she was going to be in Las Vegas for the weekend and wondered if it would be possible to crash the party.  Snehal Bhakta (@Snehalstocks) picked Amanda up at her hotel and brought her over to say hello and mingle with presenters and attendees.  She even stepped up and fired out a Tech Slam presentation.  

From left to right: Jason Borgen (@jborgen), Rich Dixon (@RichEdTech), Snehal Bhakta (@Snehalstocks), Kyle Anderson (@AndersonEdTech), Steven New (@StevenNew1), unknown (seated), Amanda Haughs (@MsHaughs)

Another highlight moment of the conference came from Araam Zare, a Shadow Ridge High School junior and one of the presenters of the conference.  I met Araam earlier this year when he was recommended as somebody that could help out with various technology around the school.  He has been absolutely amazing in helping to image and enroll Chromebooks, troubleshoot issues with computers, and so much more.  I asked him early on if he would be interested in presenting a student perspective to teachers at the conference and he enthusiastically agreed.  Araam presented a student perspective of innovation and educational technology to a group of about 12 teachers that (most likely purposely) hit him with tough questions.  Araam breezed through the presentation without missing a beat.  I couldn't be more proud of him and I hope that he will be willing to present at future CUE-NV events. 

Overall, the conference was a resounding success.  I wasn't worried about it being a failure, but you always need to prepare for glitches to happen.  About the only thing that went wrong during the weekend was the lack of air conditioning that could not get fixed while we were there.  While it did cause of a great deal of discomfort and complaining, it was completely understandable.  Verbal feedback from most everybody that I spoke with was positive, and many are looking forward to our next events.  In the coming months, we will be hosting #CoffeeCUE, #BeerCUE, #CUEHike, and a slew of one-day mini-conferences, many of which will also be happening in Northern Nevada.  We also will be hosting two larger events in Northern Nevada, with our CUE-NV Tech Fest at Douglas High School in Minden, NV on January 28 (if you are CUE member, watch  your email for a special rate code) and the Reno Tech Event on April 28-29 (more information on this event to follow). 



With the conference completed, I plan to take a little bit of time to relax before diving into the next event full bore.  I have several other things to look forward to in the coming days and weeks, such as a happy hour with my Las Vegas Team RWB friends (Team RWB is a veterans' organization, I highly recommend you check us out and get involved, it is a national organization that promotes physical and social activity for veterans and civilians alike, see www.teamrwb.org), one of my best friends from high school is getting married in Michigan (and my wife and I are going alone, without the kids!), Fall CUE at the end of October, a trip to Disneyland for my daughter's 5th birthday in November (she is going to lose it when she gets to go not only to Disneyland, but the character breakfast with Ariel, the Bibbity Boppity Boutique to get a princess makeover, and fireworks at night), Monterey Aquarium (I hope to meet up with Jason Borgen and Ben Cogswell while I'm going through there!), and my parents' place in Northern California for Thanksgiving.  

Until next time...