This past Saturday I had the opportunity to be the moderator for my best friend, Adam Schoenbart, while he presented for #GoogleEduOnAir (a free online professional development conference for educators) about Using Google+ to develop stronger classroom community and enhance student learning. In the past, I have done a few Google Hangout sessions which I've always thought were awesome, but the experience of partaking in this worldwide conference was powerful and transformative.
As of right now our session has gotten over 500 views, which is absolutely mind-blowing to me. The influence and connectivity I felt as a result of presenting to such a large audience reinforced the importance of instilling that same empowering, giddy, and excited feeling in my students. Moving forward, my goal is to continue offering them opportunities to create and share with authentic audiences that extend beyond the walls of our classroom.
The next astonishing thing to me was the ever-present awe I feel at being in a profession with like-minded people that enthusiastically give up their free time in order to spend more time perfecting their craft. #GoogleEduOnAir brought that admiration to a whole new level. It truly made me realize how lucky I am to be in a profession with people that proudly wake up at 5:29AM to partake in daily Twitter chats (#BFC53), or give up weekends to attend EdCamps and similar professional development conferences. I believe it is a rarity for anyone to love their profession that deeply and be so devoted to their career. The opportunity to interact with so many equally passionate and curious educators gives me a deep sense joy and a wave of passion for my profession and continued use of #edtech.
My biggest takeaway and the absolute best part of this experience for me was being able to continue conversations on Twitter after the session was over. I talked to people with similar policies and legal limitations in their district regarding Google Plus and it was nice to know that we are all in the same boat of desperately wanting progress while simultaneously feeling a little bit stuck. There will likely be a future blog post dedicated solely to this topic, as it has been a hot issue lately among many people in my PLN.
While I don't think that conferences like #GoogleEduOnAir replace the value of face to face interaction (especially after the Ednado conference I went to back in April and the opportunities for connectivity that it led to - hey #EdJusticeLeague!), the convenience and ease of an online conference is an exceptional and productive alternative. I absolutely love the idea of FREE virtual professional development opportunities that connect global educators at whatever time and place is convenient for each of us. Plus, any learning that can take place from the comfort of my couch while I am in PJ pants and eating pancakes is always a major win!