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THE BEST ISTE EVER: Day 4 Reflections

I'll get a start on it. Day 4 was the bomb. Here's the "moneyshot" again  to prove it:

Tuesday morning I actually slept in until 7:30, had a good workout, and dressed smartly for my photo shoot at 11:20. I'd been asked by ISTE to be a poser and you know me, I couldn't resist. But that did mean I was in slacks and had to haul my blue blazer around all day. That's okay though, I look forward to recognizing myself in some upcoming issue of Learning and Leading with Technology. If you check out last month's issue you'll see Andy Wheelock's personable self gracing the inside front cover--like that. You should also catch Andy's article from the May L&LT:

I actually had a sit  down breakfast at the Hilton's Riverwalk restaurant, and the breakfast wrap was good but I never had a coffee refill and no one actually checked in with me at any time. I had to flag down a waiter for a check after waiting patiently for 10 minutes. Food=4stars, Service=1.

Off I went, hiking to the Expo floor for my one and only pass through it. I was looking for ProctorU, a remote proctoriing service, but I never found their booth. I did find Atomic Learning and had a nice chat with a young rep who shared just what I was looking for--hundreds of tutorials on Microsoft Access. I have a new mission. I'll spend an hour or so every work day working through Access lessons until I can use that powerful database program to automate as much of my work @ MNPS Virtual School as possible. Right now we're spreadsheet-driven, and I want those spreadsheets to talk to one another. As we scale up to tens of thousands of students, that will be absolutely necessary. I will become an Access Power User, compliments of Atomic Learning.

robin henson..."i shoot people"
The photo shoot went great, with Robin Henson putting me at ease and taking dozens of shots to which I will have access once they are put up on a private flickr account for me. I sat for a video
interview with the gracious and professional Aaron Ragen-Fore, who asked me questions about my volunteering for ISTE and my involvements with the communities therein. I hope any of my responses will be helpful to the organization.

Then it was off to the Playground!

My plan, developed over the course of the past several months, was to host a central presentation area, run by incoming Lowly High Grand Poobah Kae Novak, featuring a rotating focus on the six learning stations, per this description from the program:

Current plans are to run a learning station for each of six platforms with two experts in person and at least one "inworld." Each station will have a poster highlighting its contents and a display-connected computer and all stations will be connected to the main presentation display via an ongoing Google Hangout. We'll rotate featured presentations at the main display in 25 minute sessions throughout the playground's time. All this will, of course, be piped into Second Life for an audience of avatars representing participants who are educators from around the globe. The Google Hangout Live feature will make our featured sessions available globally via YouTube and also archive the entire thing. We are still accepting recommendations and applications to share, but as this event has in the past run as long as 3 full days we are certain that there will be no shortage of content. This work is so dynamic that we will be working right up to the start of the event to optimize it! Current planned stations (subject to change): Second Life, Minecraft, OpenSimulator/Kitely, QuestAtlantis/Active Worlds, World of Warcraft/Games, and Madly Miscellaneous (wildcard!).

ISTE SIGVE Virtual Environments Playground 2013, a set on Flickr.
1005409_10152593700562619_1024406656_n(1)2013-06-25 14.27.142013-06-25 14.27.212013-06-25 14.27.292013-06-25 16.04.472013-06-25 16.05.52
2013-06-25 16.06.122013-06-25 16.06.282013-06-25 16.07.442013-06-25 16.51.312013-06-25 16.51.432013-06-25 16.53.57
2013-06-25 17.28.462013-06-25 17.28.592013-06-25 17.30.192013-06-25 17.30.332013-06-25 17.31.452013-06-25 17.33.14
2013-06-25 17.33.332013-06-25 17.33.372013-06-25 17.37.492013-06-25 17.37.541005409_10152593700562619_1024406656_n
As you can see from the photos, we had a good deal of traffic as our volunteers shared non-stop. The makeup of the Playground did not hold its shape though. Kae delegated her presentation work station to the capable Chris Luchs, and the audio of the Google Hangout just could not handle the room configuration. Jimi Hendrix was in the room from the start, and feedback ended up being our biggest enemy. Chris at various times fell back to Livestream, and I took over the second presentation station with my Second Life piece (hosting a 30 minute video of students sharing their perspectives about working in Second Life with David Deeds of Mexico City and a long interview with  Gord Holden, who is up to amazing things in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Cynthia Colongne personed the Madly Miscellaneous station, and she held forth on everything from Scratch to Moses to Cloud Party. Andy Wheelock shared his OpenSimulater build of the Anne Frank home, and immersive experential field trip for students and teachers, as well as Kitely. Peggy Sheehy was a gem on World of Warcraft in Schools, taking over the main presentation stage for a substantial piece on that, Marianne Malmstrom, of course, had ringers in the form of actual live students sharing their spaces in Minecraft, including Zoe, the lovely daughter of the lovely Malinda McCormick, whose avatar was among the first I met when I dedicated my Second Life explorations to ISTE. Bronwyn Stuckey presented Quest Atlantis Remixed and then hosted an hour long Minecraft Meetup over at the Second Life stage. And over in a corner Rosie and Bob Vojtek were mad at it with interviews and features on the release of the new 194 page Virtual Education Journal.

Once our time was up, we held a brief annual meeting, raising Kae to her primary leadership position and sharing new initiatives, such as a MOOC focus, Minecraft research and development, and more.

 After the Playground, several of us headed over to a SIG Reception, where we enjoyed a nice spread of food and chatted with volunteer folks at ISTE, meeting up with Lauren and Heidi, the two dynamic ladies who had done so much over the past months to shepherd us through to this day. I was back at the hotel early that night, in an attempt to catch up on some rest before tomorrow's all-day ETLO Online Learning Institute, at which we were to host a round-table discussion on MNPS Virtual School. So you see, we are not yet done. But we shall be soon!

Thank you for staying with me as I work out some reflections and share my great excitement about ISTE 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. I'm going to hit "Publish" here but may well come back with some more detail as it sparks in my old brain. Day 5, the final day of ISTE2013, coming up next.


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