Honored and Amazed: EdmodoCon 2017
I have been a huge fan of Edmodo the last four years and it has really brought about tremendous, positive changes in my classroom, for my students and opened up a lot of new opportunities for me as well Edmodocon, an online conference, takes place in August and is held at Edmodo headquarters in San Mateo, California. Each spring, Edmodo accepts proposals from educators to be selected as one of the featured speakers during this event. The last two years I had submitted a proposal to speak at EdmodoCon, not fully understanding the magnitude of it even though I had watched it each year, and definitely not expecting that I would be one of those selected to present. I took a chance again this past year and submitted a proposal and definitely put some extra time into what I wanted to say and decided to just go for it. Honestly, I did not think that I would be selected.
Finding out I was one of the educators selected to speak at EdmodoCon was really an emotional moment where I felt a little bit overwhelmed, very surprised, tremendously honored, and definitely scared. There was also ongoing disbelief that I had been chosen.
I had watched EdmodoCon the last two years and knew how it was set up, where the people were speaking from, and also that many thousands of people were watching from around the world while the event was streaming live. All of these images passed through my mind at a glimpse when I found out I was selected but the excitement was sometimes exchanged for nerves. I just could not believe that I was chosen and could not wait to attend.
I have been using Edmodo since 2015 and it truly has made a huge impact in my classroom. I found it almost accidentally, looking to find a way to open up more access for my students and to help solve some problems in communication, and availability. Over the years, the ways that we have used Edmodo has changed and many new features have been added, making it even better than it already was. Having the opportunity to see the people working behind the scenes at Edmodo and to talk with each person was phenomenal.
How does one prepare for EdmodoCon?
Unlike any other presentation you have prepared for! While I have given many presentations in the form of Professional Development sessions, speaking at conferences and online learning events, preparing for something like this was a much greater feat. My session would be a 20 to 30 minute presentation, speaking live from Edmodo. I needed to craft a message that would inform the participants or “Edmodians”, who were already familiar with Edmodo and knew so much about it. My goal was to convey my message of why and how it has made such an impact in my classroom.
Countless hours spent crafting the presentation, re-working the images, thinking through what I would say on August 1st, and lots of communication between myself and Niccolina and Claire. The support I received was fantastic. The team was always readily available to give guidance and feedback, to do practice runs or whatever was needed. They were there to support me and all of the speakers and definitely made the whole experience phenomenal, and always found ways to calm those nerves with reassurances and positive encouragement.
Prepping for EdmodoCon
I think I lucked out because I had the benefit of a little preparation when I was asked to speak about Edmodo during the Microsoft Hack the Classroom in San Antonio while at ISTE this summer. I prepared a 5 minute “Ignite” talk on the integration of Microsoft Office with Edmodo and this experience definitely helped me to better prepare for EdmodoCon, but then again it was unlike any other experience I have had. It gave me some practice speaking in a studio setting with a live audience, microphone and cameras, but it didn’t quite prepare me for the full experience since it was only a five minute talk. But nevertheless, I am grateful for having had that opportunity to connect and to get a little bit of practice in before heading to the main event. Being able to step out of my comfort zone, and do something like this for the first time, was a challenge and I was very nervous about it, but having this experience definitely helped.
Heading to EdmodoCon
Going to San Francisco, arriving at Edmodo Headquarters, and meeting the other educators was tremendous. I was very excited about the day, getting to spend time at Edmodo, practicing a little and just being in the same space with educators from around the world, and having time to sit down with them and share how we use Edmodo was awesome. Being there and having the support and generosity of the whole Edmodo team, becoming connected with these other educators, really added so much more to what I already love about Edmodo. The whole team of Edmodo is people focused, they work for the students, they are a family and they are there to be a constant source of support and encouragement to one another.
The way that we were all welcomed by the team was unlike anything I have ever experienced. We were greeted at check-in with welcome bags full of Edmodo gear, picked up by members of the team and driven to Edmodo headquarters where we had time to tour the office and also to ask questions of all of the team members working hard to make Edmodo what it is. We had catered meals, access to anything we could possibly want to make our time there more comfortable and most of all, we experienced a true sense of belonging and being part of the Edmodo family. Being able to meet for the first time people who have done nothing but work to make Edmodo a better platform for students and for education and who truly value the input from educators and the connections made, was an honor. Edmodo is how I made changes to my classroom that enabled me to open up more access to the resources the students need and also access to a world full of learning opportunities. Being selected to speak there and to share my experience with so many educators around the world was very humbling.
It is probably the most nervous I have ever been before a presentation and waiting for it to be my turn to speak was definitely a challenge for me to stay calm and focused. But hearing Jennifer’s presentation before mine helped and once I entered into the room and put the headset on, my nerves pushed aside and I was ready to go. Of course I was still nervous but I felt like I could get through it, I was ready to share our story. And I think the one thing that really helped to break the ice for me was when my slide deck would not load correctly and I just had to go on and start talking with fingers crossed that it would actually work. It’s really not much of a surprise that I would have some kind of a technical difficulty because I often joke that the technology cloud of darkness follows me at times. But the show must go on and if my slides did not work well then I was just going to have to talk my way through it as best as I could. Fortunately it only took a few minutes for everything to reload and so I was able to carry on through the presentation.
How did it go? I think for the most part I am pleased with how it went and I caught myself getting a little emotional at the start because it really hit me that I was speaking there and I have been so thankful for what Edmodo has provided for me to make things available for my students in my classroom. But standing there and having that chance to speak and share our experience with my own personal learning revelations about my teaching methods and why I needed to change was bittersweet.
Because I’m a reflective person and I did want to evaluate my speaking and be mindful of words or mannerisms that catch my attention, I watch the replay of the video. I first noticed the look on my face when told that my slides weren’t loading and then I should just start, it was a look of wait what? And as for my overall presentation, of course I did come up with a few things that I would change. But that’s how we learn and grow and move forward. We have to reflect, we will make mistakes, we will face challenges and while it is important to acknowledge these, the most important thing is that we share our message and that we also share our learning and reflections in the process.
Edmodocon was amazing and it gave me a lot of new ideas for this school year and ways we can use Edmodo to knock down those classroom walls and to bring in opportunities for students to learn more about the world and to provide a safe space for them to connect with other students in the world. We can empower our connected learners.
Celebrating together after EdmodoCon 2017