Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Different Path, Same Destination: A #CUE19 Journey

The air was crisp, hovering around 40 degrees, with a strong breeze that makes one regret not having a sweatshirt or coat, even if one is only outside long enough to top off the gas tank and run the squeegee over the windows.  While the sun would be up for another hour or so, the string of granite, snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada block the last beams of warmth and light, plunging the temperature further as it sunk further behind the mountains.  While this sounds like a grand scene for a ride home to curl up on the couch with a book, Netflix, and maybe a cup of tea, this was the beginning of a much longer drive, one beginning in Northwestern Nevada and ending in the Mojave Desert of Southern California.  A ribbon of blacktop lay before me, but the familiar images of rocks, Joshua trees, and few and far between services along California state highways would be replaced by snowbanks, pine trees, and few and far between services along US 395 through the Carson Valley, along Mono Lake, the Owens Valley and eventually to the 15, 215, and 10 into Palm Springs for the annual Spring CUE Conference.  

This year's trip would be my first after moving from Las Vegas to Reno.  That being said, the drive from Las Vegas to Palm Springs was a little over 4 hours, this one would be between 8-9 hours, as it is about 500 miles rather than about 280.  Most people would fly in my situation, but I drive for several reasons, including the price difference and my love of driving and seeing beautiful and interesting things along the routes.  However, since I was leaving after work, I would not be doing the entire drive in one shot; I would be watching the road through two headlights for about five hours with an overnight stop in Ridgecrest, with the remaining three or so hours on Thursday morning.  So as I crossed the Nevada line at Topaz Lake into California, I cruised along while burning through a few podcasts and albums from Our Lady Peace, The Tragically Hip, and Static-X.

A quick photo opportunity with Kristin Oropeza
& Angela Barnett while hawking some CUE gear!
This year, for the first time, I volunteered some time at the conference.  I chose to work in the CUE gear store, selling shirts, books, and other swag to conference attendees.  My first shift with the CUE store was at 12:45 on Thursday.  I also had to check into the house where I would be staying, so I decided that as long as I left Ridgecrest by 8:00, I would get to Palm Springs in time to check in and make it to the convention center.  I set my alarm for 7:30, but I woke up around 5:45, deciding there wasn't any point in trying to go back to sleep, so I got around and left the hotel around 6:15.  I set the cruise for a couple of miles BELOW the speed limit so I wouldn't get there too early, as my house wasn't going to be available until after 10. A stop for coffee and a couple of more stops just to walk around and enjoy a temperature that wasn't below 40 degrees for the first time in a while, I made it to Palm Springs to kick off my conference! 

I had looked at the schedule in the days ahead of the conference, but it didn't quite hit me just how full my schedule was going to be.  With my times volunteering, my selection to speak during CUEBOOM (more on that in a moment), the Supermuch Sticker Swap, and trying to record episodes of both The BeerEDU Podcast and Sons of Technology: The Podcast, I was going to be hard pressed to get to many sessions.  However, I knew that the hallway conversations were going to be great, with countless people that I don't get to see often attending.  Within minutes of arriving, I ran into Tisha Richmond, Tara Martin, Brent Warner, Tom Covington, Mike Jephcott, and Cate Tolnai and many more and watched an interesting take on a keynote speech, a duet featuring Alice Chen and Martin Cisneros, moderated by one of my favorite people of all time, John Eick.  

Brent Coley, Cori Orlando and I getting
ready to drop the mic BOOM style!
So, about this CUEBOOM.  A couple of months back, the call for speakers was sent out asking for people to apply to speak about something they are passionate about in three minutes.  I have never given a keynote speech or spoken to a crowd of more than 200 people, but I had an idea about speaking to people about the importance of creating and building a brand that I decided to submit.  I received notification a few weeks ago that my submission had been accepted along with a template in which to build my presentation.  A couple of days prior to the event, we, the speakers, were notified of the order in which we would give our speeches, with my name at the top of the list.  I was astounded because I was on a list with some names of people that I really admire and draw inspiration from, people like Brent Coley, Cori Orlando, Lisa Nowakowski, and Bill Selek.  I was even more astounded when the organizer of the event, Ann Kozma, told me that she wanted me to go first because my personality, passion, and intensity would be amazing to kick off the event.  I hope that I lived up to expectation.  To check out my speech, as well as eight other amazing educators' speeches, check out the link to the entire CUEBOOM session here.  

Our jackets were a big hit at the conference!
As co-host for two podcasts, naturally, we wanted to get some recording down while we had people available in the flesh.  Joe Marquez and I decided that we would record on Saturday morning of the conference before any sessions began and put out an open invite to folks to join us for our recording.  Because we did it at 7:30 and because many had to prepare for sessions, we only had Jesus Huerta come join us, but it was still a great conversation on fails.   You can check that one out wherever you listen to podcasts by searching for Sons of Technology: The Podcast.  And on a side note, congratulations go out to Jesus, as he was selected as the recipient of the Leroy Finkel Award of $2000 that he will be using to expand projects with his students!  

Fun recording with Brian Cairnes, Maricela Hernandez,
Eddie Simoneau, and of course, my partner in crime, Ben!
For The BeerEDU Podcast, Ben and I decided that rather than recording an entire episode, we wanted to get clips of individuals and ask them about their conference experiences and because of the nature of our show, what they like to unwind with after a long week and they are out with their colleagues and swear that they aren't going to talk about work.  So Ben and I pulled up a spot in the hallway of the convention center and as people walked by, we flagged them done and got their voices "on tape."  After a quick CUE-NV affiliate meeting, we continued to get voices at a social event outside by the pool.  We will be putting the finishing touches on this episode this week and releasing it over the weekend, so if you are reading this prior to March 23, 2019, it's not ready just yet, but like previously mentioned, you can also find this podcast wherever you listen by searching for The BeerEDU Podcast.  

So in between volunteering three sessions in the gear store, participating in CUEBOOM and recording some clips for the podcasts, I also got to participate in the Supermuch Sticker Swap.  Essentially, those selected were given a table in which to advertise stickers, trade with others that came through and talk with others about our stickers or anything in between.  I had stickers for Anderson EdTech, The BeerEDU Podcast, and a few Sons of Technology Podcast, plus buttons and a handful of magnets.  Most of those that came through were people that I had never met before, and it was a lot of fun telling the story behind the stickers.  I also collected quite a few more for my laptop cover. And while they had the event at FallCUE in October 2018, this one was more organized and was a lot smoother than the previous iteration.  

Getting a little goofy with Kat Goyette! Yes, we are
picking a golden nose! 
But perhaps the best part of the conference was the interactions and conversations with so many people.  Three conversations that really stand out as the highlight of my time in Palm Springs include the several at the Pear Deck & Flipgrid happy hour, one with Kelly Hilton of hyperdoc fame, and a low key after conference wind down at dinner and around a fire on Saturday night with several others.  Many of the conversations were with people that I have known for a long time, people like Nicole Beardsley, Adam Juarez, Katherine Goyette, Ann Kozma, Kelly Martin, and many more.  Some were with others I have met previously but do not know very well, such as Joey Tarleson, Adam Goldberg, Matt Miller, Jen Giffen, and Martin Cisneros.  Then there were the conversations with people I was meeting for the first time, like Kelly Hilton, Corey Mathias, and Susan Casey. 

A view so beautiful, surrounded by the remains of one of the darkest
periods of our nation's history.  We study history to prevent it from
repeating, yet similar things are still happening today!
Needless to say, the long drive home was going to be a great opportunity to reflect on my learning and conversations that I had over the previous days.  However, I was also going to need to break up the trip a little bit as well.  Per recommendation by Brian Briggs, I binge listened to The Ron Burgandy Podcast, a little bit of silly and stupid that made me laugh while driving through the barrenness of the drive between Victorville and Lone Pine.  But once I made it to Lone Pine, I needed to get out and move around a bit.  Between Lone Pine and Independence, CA is the site of the Manzanar National Historic Site.  Manzanar was where over 10,000 people of Japanese descent were sent from their homes shortly after the beginning of World War II for no reason other than their race and nationality.  There isn't much left to the site since the government dismantled most of the camp after the war ended, but the National Park Service has a very powerful museum in the old community center and has started to rebuild replicas of barracks, the fire station, and the guard towers.  I have been to Manzanar three times now, and it gets harder every time I go back.  I get a little teary eyed walking through the museum and seeing the exhibits of people ripped from their homes with little more than a bag of clothes on their back.  I cannot urge one more to stop if you are ever traveling 395, it's something that everybody needs to see and experience. 

I cannot wait until the next event, whether it's a CUE affiliate event, the CUE Leadership Development Institute in the summer, or FallCUE; it doesn't matter, the learning will always be great and the interactions will be greater.  I will close this out with a really fun one from Saturday evening's dinner, no context whatsoever, I'll just leave it to your devices to imagine.

Until next time...

From left: Kristina Mattis, Jen Giffen, Susan Stewart, and Josh Harris. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

What To Do at Spring CUE: #CUE19 Preview

The ride home on Sunday will add about 35 more minutes,
since I live in Reno, but that's just more time for reflection!
Ladies and gentlemen, it is that time of the year once again!  It is time for thousands of educators, technology nerds, and fun loving folk like me to make our annual pilgrimage to Palm Springs, CA for the Spring CUE Conference.  This will be my fourth year in a row and in the past, it has gotten better every year, and I expect nothing less for this year!  In the hours before I hit the road to make the drive from Reno/Carson City, first to Ridgecrest for a night, then the rest of the way to Palm Springs, I am furiously gathering up the essentials (a duffel bag will do for clothes, but my technology bag certainly puts that bag to shame!) and getting excited for everything that I will be doing at CUE.  Since I am leaving after work, a 5 to 5 and a half hour drive with a 3 hour drive on Thursday morning sounded way more enticing than a full drive to Palm Springs from Carson City in one shot, not to mention a room in Ridgecrest was about $60 versus whatever insane amount it will be in Palm Springs the night before the conference begins.  It's going to be a busy conference and the lack of sleep will certainly be no joke, once again!

Of course CUE is going to be full of breakout sessions and poster sessions and keynote speeches and workshops and all of that jazz that is awesome, inspiring, and #FirehosePD worthy (shout out to you, Corey Mathias!), but I'm not going to get too deep into what I plan to go to because I have learned from the past.  The past has taught me not to get to hung up on any particular session because there is a good chance that when you get there, it may be full.  "So Kyle, solve that by getting to sessions earlier!"  Good call, Internet peeps, but I like to get in my networking and conversing and vendor hall time, so sometimes I get caught up and make it to the session, not late, but not as early as I should.  So I always have several backups to make sure that I can get to a session that I want, and if I don't make it, I can always fall back on networking, conversing, and vendor hall-ing (I just made up that word, it works, right?).  And on top of that, I have a lot of things to promote that will be happening at CUE and I want to take a moment to be a little shameless!

First off, you can never have too much CUE gear, like shirts, sweatshirts, and battery banks for your cell phone.  That being said, I will be volunteering at the CUE merchandise stand on Thursday afternoon from 12:45-2:45, Friday from 11:30 to 1:30, and again on Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30.  Come see me to chat and grab some CUE swag before it's all gone!  

Friday morning is something that I have been preparing for and getting excited about for several weeks.  At 8:30 in the main keynote auditorium, along with nine other insanely smart, talented, and exciting people, I will be participating in the CUEBOOM session.  What is CUEBOOM?  If you haven't been initiated yet, CUEBOOM is a session where we will each have three minutes to fire up the crowd about something that we are passionate about.  While I can hardly contain my excitement and wanting to tell the world about my presentation/speech, I am going to hold onto it until Friday morning when I unleash it to the world!  This will most certainly be the largest crowd I have ever spoken to, with 250 being my max currently.  I have been getting so much love and support from so many already, I am so honored for that and the amazing people that I get to share the stage with, and I am also honored to know the coordinator, Ann Kozma, who has given me suggestions and feedback on my presentation along the way.  So hopefully I will see you on Friday, March 15 at 8:30 for CUEBOOM!  And if you can wake up early enough, don't forget about #cuehike at 5:30 AM (I was "ordered" to go by Katie McNamara and Hans Tullman, don't want to let my KernCUE brethren down!)

We all love our stickers.  Many of us fork out lots of hard earned cash just to have a different kind of currency for conferences.  Stickers are the new business card and also serve as a form of art, not just for the sticker itself, but for the laptops and laptop covers that get plastered with stickers after a successful exchange.  FallCUE had the first ever Supermuch Sticker Swap, which, to put it lightly, was kind of a dumpster fire that was interrupted, literally, but a fire alarm, but it was still a great time, regardless of how unorganized it was (but to be fair, it was sorely underestimated how popular it was going to be).  For Spring CUE, I was lucky enough to get a table to promote my stickers!  I will be there with my blue AndersonEdTech stickers, BeerEDU Podcast stickers, a handful of magnets, and some buttons!  So on Saturday, March 16 at 11:45, come check out the sticker swap to exchange stickers, build your PLN, and learn a little about the history behind my stickers and my branding!

Speaking of my podcast, my partner, Ben Dickson, will be attending CUE for the first time!  While I am already excited that he is going to be experiencing something so incredible, I am also excited because we are planning to do some recording for the podcast at the conference!  We are hoping to gather some short clips from folks highlighting their favorite moments of the conference, biggest takeaways, and because it's a podcast where we talk about what we love over beers, their favorite beverage for professional development.  So be on the lookout for Ben and me with our mics, you will most certainly get a sticker and get your voice heard on the podcast!  And what about the other podcast, the Sons of Technology Podcast?  We will also be recording an episode from CUE and trying to release it in time for your drives and flights home, so find Joe Marquez and me and we may have a sticker for you!  Subscribe to both podcasts on your favorite platform.  

These are just the things that are for sure penciled into my schedule.  This doesn't include any after-hours mingling and shenanigans, the Taste of CUE in Downtown Palm Springs on Saturday night, or the sessions that I have yet to decide upon.  It's going to be a whirlwind and you know there will be a follow-up post after the fact.  Lucky for me, I have an off day from work on Monday after a long drive to reflect.  We will see how I feel about getting it out on Monday!  In the meantime, see you in Palm Springs, and if I don't, make sure to follow #cue19, #wearecue, and #notatcue!  

Until next time... 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

More #ChromeExtensions to Simplify Your Day!

It is not a secret that I love Google and anything Google related, including the Google Chrome web browser.  As you are most likely aware, the Chrome Web Store offers thousands of apps and extensions that make doing your every day work more efficient and simpler.  My browser window next time my Omnibox (address bar) is chock full of extensions that I use on a regular basis, plus more that I have turned off and use only when I need them so they do not drag down my browser's performance (a great extension to manage your extensions is Extensity, it allows you to toggle on or off extension with a couple of clicks).  And in the past, some of my most popular posts have been about Google Chrome extensions, so I am bringing you another round of extensions that are you are going to love because they are going to simplify and enhance your life!

See below for the citation for this image!
If you are writing a paper or having students write a paper, citation of sources is absolutely a required skill.  In my early days of teaching, I had copies of citation style books like MLA and APA for my students and would also provide them with the Purdue University OWL website that provided detailed instructions and examples of how to cite just about anything in just about any format.  Today, I use an extension called Cite This for Me: Web Citer.  This extension will allow you to quickly create citations for websites in APA, Chicago, Harvard, and MLA format and also has a full tool built into the extension to direct you to citethisforme.com to cite books, newspapers, etc. and create a bibliography/works cited/references page.  They do have a premium account, but I get along just fine with the free version.  However a quick disclaimer: the citations are not perfect.  In APA, for example, they usually list the full name of authors when proper APA style lists the author's last name followed by the first initial.  So it pays to cross reference some other sources at times to double check, but kind of like Wikipedia in research, Cite This for Me is a great starting point!  Oh, and the citation produced for the image above is:

Cite This For Me Review for Teachers | Common Sense Education. (2015). Common Sense Education. Retrieved 1 March 2019, from https://www.commonsense.org/education/website/refme-1

After you install the Edpuzzle extension, use it from the button below
a video on YouTube!  And thanks, John Green, for being my model
for said screenshot demonstration!
If you are like me, you use a lot of video in your class to address visual and audio learners.  YouTube has been a good friend of mine for a long time, but even the best videos sometimes could not engage students and formatively assessing students afterward was not very effective.  Then I was introduced to Edpuzzle, a program that allows users to embed questions, voiceovers, and more into videos from YouTube and other sites.  You simply find a video, reuse ones that have already been created by other users (!) or created your own activities for the video.  You can even set it to where students have to answer the questions before they continue to watch the video and use their responses for grades as it tracks responses.  The Edpuzzle extension makes it even easier because rather than having to search for videos in Edpuzzle, it adds a button on YouTube to edit in Edpuzzle!  It's a great time saver, especially if you weren't necessarily looking to create an activity in Edpuzzle and you happen to come across a great video!

Image result for wakelet logo
Image courtesy of www.wakelet.com
A great new tool that is really gaining a lot of steam in the last few months is Wakelet. I actually covered this in a previous post on Google Chrome extensions, but it is so great that I feel that it warrants a second look! Wakelet allows users to create collections of images, webpages, Tweets, and much more and share them.  Rather than bookmarking pages, you can add them to Wakelet and share them more easily.  I like to use Wakelet to curate collections of Tweets after a particularly great Twitter chat or after attending a conference or training.  You simply create a collection, search by a hashtag, and add the tweets that you want to put in.  And after I've completed my collection, I can share it on Twitter, tagging those whose Tweets were included in the collection.  But sometimes you come across something on a website that you really like and want to add it to a quick collection.  Rather than opening up wakelet.com and logging into your account, if you install the Wakelet extension, you click on the extension and quickly add it to a collection or create a collection with a couple of clicks! And if you want to learn more about the Wakelet, I learned from one of the best in Randall Sampson, check out his profile on Twitter, connect with him, and you can also harness the power of Wakelet! 

Image result for clipboard history 2
Image courtesy of clipboardextension.com
As educators, you are most likely cutting, copying, and pasting things all day, every day.  One of the issues that you probably come across is when you copy something, forgot that you copied it because you didn't paste it right away, then copied something else, clearing your previous copy.  The Clipboard History 2 extension eliminates this problem by creating a clipboard of all of your copies!  Whenever you cut or copy something, the extension saves your copy so you can go back and get it.  This is great for items that you use on a regular basis or if you are copying multiple things to paste into a document, a blog post, a Tweet, etc.  You can even create favorites that the extension will remember and save for you to revisit, create settings to delete items after a certain period of time or after so many items have been copied, and many more!  This is a great extension that I am not using as much as I could, but that's only because I sometimes forget that it's there! 

Image courtesy of
the Chrome Web Store
Ever find yourself looking at something on a website and really like the font that is used but you do not have an easy way to figure it out?  This happens to me every now and then, especially when I am trying to match the fonts in what I am creating with the product that I am writing about (ex. Pear Deck).  The Chrome extension WhatFont helps solve this problem!  Once you install this extension, you simply click on it, hover over the text that you are inquiring about, and a bubble will appear telling you the font!  It's that simple!  Once you know, you can go into Google Docs, Slides, Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, whatever it is and set your font! 

Without going back and looking through my previous posts, I believe that this is either my fourth or fifth Chome extension edition of the blog.  In my opinion, anything that helps me save time and be more efficient in my daily life is a winner, and because new extensions are added all the time and others are updated with new features, I have no issue with writing one of these every few months.  Hopefully, you have some doozies that you will share as well! 

Until next time... 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

#AndersonEdTech: 100 Posts Later!

Who woulda thought?!?!?!
In December 2015, I created this blog to get my thoughts out into the universe.  I had blogged before, but I didn't keep up with it, mainly because my blog was part of my MySpace page, something that after a while, I deleted and moved on with my life, but didn't take the blog with me (I would love to go back to see what I wrote all of those years ago, if only I could pull up my deleted MySpace page).  A little over three years later, this blog is still going and this post marks my 100th edition of Anderson EdTech.  So much has changed in those three years and I wanted to use this post a way to celebrate and recognize those changes. 

When I got the writing bug again, I knew what I wanted to do with this blog.  I wanted to use this blog as a platform to showcase my life as a professional and as a person.  Some people write blogs that are strictly professional (see Ditch That Textbook, Control Alt Achieve, and Teacher Tech for Mark Manson's, the author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, which if you have not read yet, it's a poignant and vulgar, perspective on how we as a species need to relax some), I wanted to make mine a hybrid of the two.  That being said, the initial title for my blog was Tall Tales of Anderson, with the description stating that it would be a little bit of education, a little bit of personal life, and a little bit of wisecracking about various things without getting too controversial. 
examples), some write blogs that are strictly personal (check out

In the beginning, I wasn't really promoting my blog much.  Frankly, I wasn't too sure how to do it and my thought was also, "Are there really many people out there that would be interested in what I have to say?"  I had my Facebook profile where I would occasionally blast it out, same with my Twitter account, but otherwise, I didn't have any other way to get it out there. 

Speaking of my Twitter account, when I first started the blog, I had only had my Twitter account for about 9 months.  I was becoming more active on Twitter, using it more for professional growth at that point rather than a class communication tool (kids weren't on Twitter as much, as Instagram and Snapchat, two social media platforms that I didn't use, and still don't use, were more to the kids' liking).  Back then, my Twitter handle was @AndersonKnowsIt, something that my students at the time came up with for me, because, according to them, if they had a question, 99 out of 100 times, I had the answer to it (those that did use Twitter even started to use #AndersonKnowsIt, but it turns out that one was very popular with fans of MMA fighter Anderson Silva).  Once my Twitter account and my blog started to take off a bit into mid-2016, I decided that it was high time that I "trademarked" myself. 

When I attend conferences now, I put this logo
on my name badge and people "recognize"
me from Twitter!
While I thought Tall Tales of Anderson had a nice ring to it and it flowed well, it didn't have the same ring on Twitter, and it was certainly more than the 15 character limit of a Twitter handle.  But I decided that I really wanted to sync things up and really make a brand of myself, much like you see with The Weird Teacher, Teach Like a Pirate, Shake Up Learning, and the countless others out there that are known as much by their Twitter handle and logos as they are their actual name (Doug Robertson, Dave Burgess, and Kasey Bell, if you are keeping score).  If memory serves me correctly, I changed my Twitter handle first.  As much as I loved that my students created it, at the same time, it made me appear arrogant, in my opinion.  Because so much of what I was tweeting about had something to do with educational technology, I switched it over to @AndersonEdTech.  Shortly thereafter, I changed the blog from Tall Tales of Anderson to Anderson Edtech as well and bought andersonedtech.net (.com was not available).  Then came the logo, a simple combination of one of my Bitmoji images smiling and giving two thumbs up, a blue background, and a typewriter-style font that was classically beautiful. 

Over the course of 100 posts, I have stuck mostly to educational topics, but I have steered away at times.  I wrote about my concerns after the most recent presidential election in 2016.  I reviewed my new cell phone, a Google Pixel 2, when I got it in November 2017.  I ranted about the lack of mental health services and suicide prevention after Chris Cornell's death in May 2017.  I revealed my own struggles with mental health and depression in a post in March 2017.  And here and there, I have thrown in bits about my career shifts, my move to Northern Nevada, and my reasoning behind giving up on the NFL.  Whatever it has been, I have had a lot of fun writing this blog for the last three years. 

I never wrote this blog for followers or page views.  However, as of this writing, this blog has been shared and retweeted countless times, it has been viewed almost 40,000 times, and many comments made in person about how people have read it and enjoy it.  I look forward to the next 100 posts, as there is so much more to talk about and so much more wisecracking to be had!  For you, my reader, I l cannot thank you enough for reading and your support.  And my signature closing to the blog that is posted at the end of each and every one, I'm not sure where it came from, but it's simple and effective. 

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Virtual Connections & IRL Relationships

In early 2015, I attended an educational technology conference in Las Vegas at a school not far from where I was teaching at the time.  It was a great opportunity to learn about some new educational tools and how to use them and also to network with some educators that I didn't get to see and/or talk to very often.  What I didn't realize going in was that something was going to happen at this conference that was going to change my life.  

At one point during the lead up to a keynote, the person speaking asked how many people in the room were on Twitter.  Of the 200+ people in the room, I was one of maybe 3(!) that did not raise my hand.  At this point in my life, I was still under the impression that Twitter was for celebrity gossip and feuding with people, something that I saw enough of on Facebook.  What I did not realize was how powerful a tool for professional development that Twitter was, but even with all of those people as proof of its power, I still did not sign up; I needed something else to convince me, convincing from a trusted source.  

This was my first tweet back in February 2015! I think
the Facebook post below sums it up even better!
Perhaps it was 140 character limit? 
A couple of days after the conference, I spoke with a colleague that I saw at the event.  He was one of those that raised his hand stating that he had a Twitter account and I knew that he would be a great source of information and would be able to give it to me straight.  After a conversation with him, I decided that I would give Twitter a try and if I didn't like it, I could always deactivate the account.  It was certainly a 180 since I was one that had sworn that I would never create a Twitter account, I would never use hashtags, and I had enough going on with a Facebook account.  And if you are interested in finding your first tweet, I found a tutorial on a blog that walks you through the whole process, step-by-step.  Check out this post from Technology Hint at https://www.technologyhint.com/find-first-tweet/.  

As you can see, I have changed my username on Twitter
since I created it, and my shift to more professional
development is apparent as well.  
Since taking the plunge back in February 2015, I have followed over 1600 people, I am followed by over 2900 people, and I have tweeted over 10,000 times.  And with the exception of a few tweets to a few sports teams, such as the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, and Vegas Golden Knights, a comedy podcast called Taggart & Torrens that I listen to, and a rant a few years ago during the Super Bowl about how I felt the NFL had become a joke and Roger Goodell is mostly to blame (I still feel that way, to the point that I don't watch the NFL at all anymore, let the players play, hit one another, and let defenses play defense rather than trying to make it easier for offenses to score points and up the "entertainment" factor for the casual fans), I have kept it professional in the name of interacting with great educators and students, sharing my expertise, learning, blog, and podcasts, and building relationships with people in a virtual environment.  

Over the course of the past few years, I have developed a strong online presence, one that includes a Twitter account, this blog, and more recently, the start of The BeerEDU Podcast with Ben Dickson, the AndersonEdTech Vlog on YouTube, and the Sons of Technology Podcast, the brainchild of Joe Marquez, a fantastic educator and human from Clovis, CA.  I can honestly attribute everything to taking that leap and creating my Twitter account.  

I cannot even begin to identify all of the people that I have met over the years that started as a follow on Twitter.  The follows became reading tweets, blogs, listening to podcasts, watching videos, and so much more.  Profile pictures put a face to all of the great information that I was getting from Twitter.  Then came the real-life interactions.  I started to meet many of those that I followed on Twitter at conferences, at workshops, and at leadership institutes.  The "awkward" meetings with people did not exist because it seemed as if we had already known each other for years and rather than handshakes, many first meetings have resulted in hugs instead!  

To reduce echo and because my kids were making a ruckus, Ben and I
like to record outside, which means sometimes we break out Carhartts...
At least our beers for this episode stayed cold!
My podcast partner, Ben, is a great friend of mine now.  He and I met on Twitter a few years ago, interacting over Twitter chats and our mutual passion for improving education in the State of Nevada.  Because I traveled to Reno from Las Vegas several times a year, it was easy for us to finally meet in person after interacting with him online and through Voxer for a year or so.  When the idea of The BeerEDU Podcast was born, I still lived in Las Vegas and the idea was that we were going to record remotely over the 430-mile difference.  However, it was made easier when I made the move from Las Vegas to Reno, now we can record in person and interact on a level much higher than a Twitter account.  You can find our podcast on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and anywhere else you listen to podcasts!  

I must say that a podcast most likely would have never been on my plate had it not been for Twitter.  Prior to Twitter, I knew what a podcast was, but I didn't know anything about how to go about listening to one, which ones I should listen to, or especially, how to create and publish one myself.  My earliest memory of a podcast was after the CUE-NV State Conference that we hosted in January 2016.  Our keynote speaker for that event was Brian Briggs and he talked a little bit about his show, Check This Out, that he hosts with Ryan O'Donnell.  After the conference, he published an episode that reviewed his time at the conference and from that point forward, I became a subscriber/fan/inquisitive mind that every now and then, I could contact Brian and Ryan about things on the show.  Over the course of several months, I can across other shows as well, many by people that I already followed on Twitter, people like Tom Covington, Michael Jephcott, John Eick, Ben Cogswell, and many others.  

Joe Marquez was another one that met through Twitter.  Between his personal/professional account, @JoeMarquez70, and his brand, Sons of Technology, @SonsofTechEDU.  Over the course of a couple of years of admiration from afar and interaction, I met Joe for the first time in person at the Tech Rodeo in Visalia, CA in January 2018.  Over the next few months, we interacted more online and saw each other at a few events, trading various ideas, debating others, and a lot more.  When the opportunity to present at the Tech Rodeo in 2019 presented itself, I contacted Joe and asked him if he'd be interested in a collaboration presentation where we would plan remotely and present together in person.  Not only was he interested, but once we started throwing out some ideas on the focus of our presentation, an idea for the Sons of Technology podcast was born.  

Thank you to Abe Rivera for creating this awesome shot of
Joe and I presenting at the Tech Rodeo!
Joe has used his Sons of Technology brand for many years, just like AndersonEdTech has been mine.  His idea was to expand his brand by presenting an audience with topics where he and another host could civilly debate the merits of a topic.  While planning our session, he asked me to be his co-host and how we should record an episode as part of a session on building a brand.  At this time, we are two episodes deep into the journey, with the podcast available on most platforms, including Anchor, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and many more (we are still waiting for approval from Apple Podcasts as of this writing).  

I have Twitter to thank for the learning, the connections, and the endeavors in which I have made over the past few years.  Every time I meet an educator that has not jumped into the Twitterverse, I take a moment to explain what it has done for me and, like we like to say on The Sons of Technology Podcast, to take a risk and ditch their fear, if that is what is holding them back.  As always, thank you for reading my blog, and please check out both of the podcasts that I have the pleasure of creating with friends, and also check out my video blog on my YouTube channel.  

Until next time...