I had my first professional networking experiences in the Pacific Northwest. I drove up to Seattle for a planning meeting for the second annual TechShare conference. This June get-together speaks most directly to school technology departments and features a roundtable format for all breakout sessions so that everyone can participate. The planning group members are committed to the conference concept and have a good working relationship. I expect good things from this second iteration of TechShare.
Other than TechShare, I get the sense that professional networking among independent schools in Washington and Oregon is not so strong, perhaps because of the great distances among schools or the relatively small number of independent schools here compared to larger metro areas. For sure, the SF Bay Area has it going on with BAISNet, which through the thoughtful stewardship of Hoover Chan and others has grown into a lively, responsive community that interacts through email and occasional, impromptu meetings.
BAISNet serves many different types of technology staff. For those who run a one-person department in their schools, BAISNet is a lifeline to other tech professionals who are willing to answer the simplest questions within minutes. To more seasoned professionals, it is a great sounding board for new concepts and technical discussions. One of the reasons for the success of BAISNet is that face-to-face meetings build a level of familiarity and trust with others that add tremendous value to the electronic communications. Now if only BAISNet would build a richer online community!
I will do my part to strengthen professional networks here as much as I can. MACEP is the most active list I have found so far and a good starting point. Jim Heyderickx is a good partner-in-crime for this effort. I would hope that we could build stronger connections to public and parochial schools in the Portland area and build the supportive network that would benefit many!