Skip to main content

SchoologyNEXT-17; Bullet Points and Bacon

Just when you thought it couldn't possibly get any better, Schoology's national, actually worldwide, conference, SchoologyNEXT, was no ordinary gathering. Take one part reunion, one part celebration, one part mind-blowing demonstrations, one part dinosaur bones, and one part bacon; grab a thousand friends and mix it all up with a giant spoon, and BAM, you've cooked-up the tastiest conference event of the year! 

Here are a few of my takeaways from this year's event, hosted at Chicago's McCormick Place, July 23rd through July 26th.




  • Kudos to the planning and marketing teams at Schoology. I attend about six conferences each year, the attention to detail is unlike anything I've experienced at any other event. The signage, the badges, the publications; it was effortless to plan and navigate this conference experience. Admittedly biased because I live forty minutes from downtown, Chicago provided a perfect backdrop for this event. Excellent choice!
  • The variety and quality of the breakout sessions were extraordinary. I learned gamification strategies from Glen Irvin, digital storytelling techniques from Dylan Rodgers and Brad Kemp, and embedding modified HTML media from Jen Jonson. Always engaging and energetic, Jeremy Friedman and Ryan Hwang shared Schoology's vision, product roadmap, and new features. Get ready folks, 2017-2018 is going to be something special! 
  • Mindblowing and inspiring workshops with all of the relevant materials; slides, pages, links, and e-books posted within a highly organized, easy-to-navigate Schoology course. It was a pleasure getting to present with a few of my EDU-heroes; Gina Hartman, Kristie Burk, and Jared Lopatin. The pace of the conference schedule and the layout of the meeting rooms were much improved over previous events.
  • The learning didn't stop there. In the evening, you could have attended the popular Chicago architecture boat tour or the scrumptious Chicago pizza tour. Who rents out an entire museum for their conference dinner party? Schoology does. After snacking on delicious appetizers, Stephen Rao, Schoology's Ambassador of the Year, and I toured almost all of Chicago's Field Museum while others danced the Cha-Cha Slide on the main floor. Who says you can't mix culture and entertainment? It was an unforgettable night!
  • I have yet to mention two essential ingredients of a tech conference, food, and wi-fi. Off the charts! A rock solid connection throughout the event, no lagging or dropped signal whatsoever. Charging stations strategically located around heavy traffic areas within the conference hall. Bridget Heaton, Cory Klinge, and I co-hosted a live #SchoologyChat session Tuesday during the lunch break. People got to put faces to avatars, very fun! The provided breakfasts and lunches were outstanding, nutritious and flavorful. Bacon three mornings in a row, what could top that?
Finally, the most important aspect of an impressive conference is the people. It was terrific meeting and hanging IRL (in real life) with folks I usually interact with online. Schoology's leadership and programming teams were readily accessible, down-to-earth, and eager to answer everyone's questions. We, the enthusiastic attendees, rekindled old friendships and ignited new ones. Even folks who couldn't attend could share in the excitement through social media. It's tough to capture the totality of this fantastic event in five hundred words. This was my fourth SchoologyNEXT, in my opinion, it was the best yet. I can't wait to mark my calendar for SchoologyNEXT-18, I wouldn't miss it for the world!

DId you attend, physically or virtually, SchoologyNEXT-17? What are your takeaways, what did you enjoy most? Your comments are welcome and appreciated.



Comments

Marilyn said…
Bob, you couldn't have said it better. The BEST conference I have attended this year. Scoology out did themselves this year. The sessions were outstanding, the food fantastic, and the connections were made unforgettable. I personally cannot wait for next year. Thanks for the recap.
Kellie80 said…
You really captured so many of the powerful aspects of this year's conference. I love the "one part reunion, one part celebration" part of the post. Those varied ingredients combined for a really amazing experience. I have enjoyed getting to connect with you and so many others over the years, and it's sometimes hard for me to explain why NEXT is so different from other conferences. So, thanks for putting my thoughts into words. Looking forward to NEXT year!
Unknown said…
It has been a good event according to your words. I would like to be there, but maybe your explanations has to be enough.

Popular posts from this blog

Tech Time Saver #3 - URL Shorteners

Richard Byrne reminded me earlier this week that URL ( uniform resource locator ) shorteners are very simple ways to make web navigation more effective and time efficient for you and your students. Here is a comparison of three popular URL shorteners;  Google URL Shortener ,  Bitly URL Shortener , and  TinyURL.com . Google URL Shortener - is my personal favorite. Simply copy the original, lengthy URL and paste it into the space provided at goo.gl . Google then creates the short URL that can be copied and pasted as a link into blogs, tweets, or presentations. Google URL Shortener becomes even better when the Chrome browser is partnered with the Google URL Shortener Extension . One click condenses the URL from dozens, to possibly hundreds, of characters down to a randomized assortment of five letters and numbers. In addition, this click provides an option of creating a QR code from the URL. Usage statistics for the shortened URL can be tracked through Google Analytics.

Self-Directed vs. Self-Determined Learning; What's the Difference?

"We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves." - Stephen Downes In this age of abundance of information, shifting classroom pedagogy isn't nearly enough to make learning in school more relevant and authentic for the learner. Self-directed learning ( andragogy ), and self-determined learning ( heutagogy ) are the ideals necessary in making students " future ready " to live and learn in a web-connected world. While original research applied these concepts to mature learners, it has become apparent that even young children have an abundant capacity for recognizing and directing their learning. Anyone who has observed toddlers learning how to walk and talk understand the motivation and skill development that quickly develops during these processes. Considered by some to be on a learning continuum, self-directed learning, and self-determined

Digital Badges for Teacher Professional Development

Increasingly, digital badges are becoming a topic of discussion for educators. A digital badge is a digitized token of recognition for acquiring a skill, demonstrating a competency, or for sharing knowledge gained from the completion of an activity or project. As more of our learning comes by way of digital connections and contributions, badges are becoming a more prominent method of acknowledging skills and accomplishments. Many teachers readily acknowledge the importance of personalization of learning for students. Shouldn't professional development experiences offer the same promise? Ask a typical teacher to describe their PD experiences in a single word and you will likely get responses such as irrelevant or  boring . Besides personalization and relevance, digital badges provide opportunities for teachers to discuss the skills and knowledge that support educational best practice, and professional growth. These conversations support the form and function of profession