Last Thursday, April 7, 2011, over 100 educators from public and independent schools in Memphis, TN, convened at Presbyterian Day School (PDS), for InnovatED, an evening of professional development unlike traditional professional development. Where typical professional development sessions are an hour in length and tied to a day or more of a conference, InnovatED (a play on the words Innovate and Education) took place between 4:30 PM and 8 PM in 4 rooms where 4 sessions were going on simultaneously for 20 minutes each for a total of 36 sessions. The event began with registration and pizza provided by Presbyterian Day School from 4:30-4:55.
In addition to the 100 plus attendees on campus, others could attend virtually by following the #InnovatED twitter stream or watching on the uStream.tv channel, since each presentation was streamed live. Our headmaster Lee Burns watched two presentations via uStream while out of town!
Presentations were made by educators from Shelby County Schools and independent schools including several PDS teachers. What made this event even more unique were the several presentations made by educators in other states and outside of the U.S. via Skype. These included Rory Fundora, CIO of Todd County Schools in Kentucky, Edna Sackson, Teaching and Learning Coordinator from Mt. Scopus College in Australia and writer of the popular blog What Ed Said, Jerry Blumengarten from Florida who shared his very popular Cybraryman website, and Jen Wagner, creator of Projects with Jen. There were several other educators outside the Memphis area who also presented using Skype. To see a complete list of presenters and their topics and websites, check out the event wiki.
The event was open to teachers, administrators, college education majors, home school educators, and anyone interested in education. InnovatED was organized by a committee of public and private school teachers in the Memphis area, including PDS Technology Coaches Cindy Brock and Melissa Smith who committed much time in helping lead and organize this very successful event. One of our athletic coaches, Spencer McLean, also created the great logo for the event shown at the top of this post!
You could do what Cindy and Melissa did. Through their use of social media, they promoted the event and asked others to promote the event. Originally they had thought they would use only two rooms with presentations taking place in each room during each time slot. As more people signed up to attend, they continued to add rooms and presentations. Once they asked local educators to present, they began asking educators in their PLNs if they would present via Skype. These educators readily agreed, and we appreciate everyone’s participation.
With presenters Skyping in from other states, Canada, and Australia, and with some attendees “attending” the event through a twitter stream and through uStream, what might have been a local affair turned into a night of global interaction and networking, which will benefit many, many students across the world!
As a side note: InnovatED was a form of a TeachMeet. Wikipedia describes a TeachMeet as an organized (but informal) meeting for teachers to share good practice, practical innovations and personal insights in teaching with technology. Participants volunteer (via a TeachMeet website) to demonstrate good practices they've delivered over the past year or discuss a product that enhances classroom practice. TeachMeet events are open to all and do not charge an entry fee. The first TeachMeet was conceived in 2005 in Scotland.