While other teachers were off enjoying their vacation after parent/teacher conferences, I had to go to the UCET (Utah Coalition for Educational Technology) all day Friday and Saturday morning. That's Ok, it was a pretty good conference. The keynote speaker was a blogger for the New York Times, talked about Web 2.0, was hilarious and ended with a couple of songs - one was a medley regarding Web 2.0 and the other was titled "I want an iPhone" (YouTube link here). He had us laughing through the entire speech, and at the end when he sang the last song, the geeks in the audience started waving their lit up iPhones the way we used to wave our lighters at concerts. It was pretty funny, at least for us geeks.
Anyway, although my job as STS required me to go to the conference, the other benefit of it was that I get out of a final exam in my Educational Technology class for going. So, this post, for the most part, is for the purpose of documenting my thoughts about the conference for class. I did get a list of web sites that for one reason or another I wanted to keep, you may want to check out some of these.
- http://www.tripadviosor.com/ - this gives you hotel ratings from people who stayed there - sometimes as specific as "room 213..." or "you don't want to be on the east side of the building because..."
- http://www.prosper.com/ - peer-to-peer loans
The first session I went to was on movie making in the classroom, and specifically using the Public Service Announcement (PSA) format. We talked about the format - catchy, 30 - 60 seconds, uses humor, fear or guilt. Then they let us loose and we had to make a PSA on technology in the classroom. We had fun making a sarcastic anti-technology PSA. I didn't see any natural way to fit it into my Math curriculum, but thought it would be great for Psychology. Last semester we did powerpoint presentations on various psychological disorders, and I think it would be fantastic to have them do PSA's on them instead. Considering how good the presentations were, I can just imagine how great their videos could be. Of course they won't all be great, but then again, neither were the presentations.
I also went to the Photoshop III session, despite not having been to Photoshop I & II. But I figured I'd spent enough time playing with pictures that I would be able to get something out of this one. And I did, I learned a lot about masks, the ability to merge one picture with another and the different ways of fading from one to another. Unlike the PSA session I went, this one did not give me any new ideas for my classroom, simply built up the tools I was aware of in a program I already use. Not a waste of my time, but nothing new for my classroom.
Finally, I went to a Sketch-up session and learned a lot of new things about the program. Sketch-up is a 3-D program, the one Google developed to add the 3rd dimension to Google Earth. It's a cool program that I had messed around with before, but learned a few things from this session. I used to have a hard time making the rooms of the houses I made plans for work out to the right size, I learned how to actually input the numbers to get it right. Like with Photoshop, this just added to my tools in a program I already use and know. It did not give me something new to use in the classroom, just made my use of it better.
Overall the conference was great. I discovered a great new way to involve technology in my Psychology class, went to the vendors and found a DVD player that will skip unwanted aspects of movies and had a few good laughs. I also saw quite a few people that I rarely get to see. It would have been nice if it hadn't been right after Parent/Teacher conferences, but I still don't regret going to it.