I just returned from three days at the PNAIS TechShare conference, located in the foothills of Mt. Hood. It was a great conference. Though very small (maybe 35 attendees), we attracted a critical mass of teachers, kept the conversation focused on teaching and learning, and enjoyed the retreat-like atmosphere of a resort hotel. Gaining face time with Northwest colleagues we usually only “see” through email was most valuable. I picked up a lot of useful sites and tools to support our global education initiatives and made several contacts at other schools who are doing very interesting work. Best of all, I shared the experience with two colleagues from my school, which should really help with implementation of these ideas this year. Go TechShare!
We did devote an hour’s time to discussion of open source software. Interestingly, the conversation was not much different from similar talks two years ago. A lot of tech staff are still struggling with how to take the first steps to exploring open source software in their schools, and the categories of desktop, server, and web open-source software are mixed without much discrimination. I don’t fully understand why open-source technologies are not treated like other new technologies. You find the time to learn it because it’s interesting, your users are curious, and it has the potential to really help your operations. If it’s strategically important to your school, then you find the time to study it. I hope that we may one day take this conversation to the next level within our community of northwest schools.
Wow, has the Apple revolution arrived to the state of Washington! A number of schools are now wrestling with Mac client-Windows network integration, as students have begun to show up on campus with MacBooks. A whole bunch of conference attendees sported iPhones (and complained about the spotty signal reception at the resort)!
We maintained our global ed theme throughout most of the conference. The best part for me was learning what interesting global trips other schools have undertaken (Seattle Academy, Overlake, Northwest Academy, Lakeside, among others). However, when I asked the teacher group how many had tried a virtual exchange, no hands went up! Maybe the right people weren’t in the room, but I was surprised at the lack of virtual exchanges. Thankfully, the group received my presentation about our Gaza City Skype chat very well, and perhaps one or two will give it a try this year.
After a lovely retreat and conference experience up in the woods, I return to help launch our new web site tomorrow! Hopefully, by the end of day, you will see a whole new look and functionality at www.catlin.edu.