I attended #OETC19 (https://oetc.ohio.gov/ ) February 12-14 at the Columbus (Ohio) Convention Center. The Renaissance is a great hotel, though a few blocks from the Center. There is an awesome breakfast place right next door, called Lexi’s on Third. The best part about conferences is catching up with my PLN, some of which I had never met in person. More time to chat would have been great, but everybody is busy. The Convention Center is easy to navigate, though I think they should include a layout map in their app for newbies. They did have an app to make your schedule and message people, and I used it along with a few others. I don’t know how many people attend OETC, but it seemed low this year (though i have not been here in a while, maybe 6 years) and a few others made that comment also. The Keynotes were not nearly as full as they should have been. Eric Sheninger, Justin Aglio, and the AI panel were all great. If you aren’t looking up Artificial Intelligence, get started (like I have to)... it is everywhere and is only increasing its reach.
I went to a few sessions, mostly to hear what kind of maker people were doing. I tweeted out many thoughts (#oetc19) . The Middie Makers from Middletown started makerspaces at 3 elementary and 1 middle school. They have a couple of designated maker days during the quarter where everyone is doing some kind of maker project, not necessarily curriculum related. They have 6 areas of focus : Engineering Design, Co-botics, Low Tech/no Tech, Circuits and electronics, VR & AR, Digital Media. Coding and Robotics can play a role in studying agriculture and helping to create solutions to issues they encounter. This project by Dublin Jerome HS was looking at soil compaction.
Crestwood talked about Mobile Maker Carts that they are deploying. A 3 person panel gave some ideas on sustainability , as well as promoted the MakerX event April 6th (MakerFaire). The final session was about Product Based learning in a multi age, multi skill space. It is a semester long computer science elective that middle school kids can take more than once, so each time has to be different. It is set up in a very blended fashion, with a great amount of self regulation and teachers going around helping
I also spent a little time in the vendor hall, talking to a few people, maker related. Got some ideas and contacts. I have a few things to research and a few people to contact. Aisle 100 of the hall had a Playground in 2 hour chunks, where teachers were showing off some of the things their students had done. This is like a poster session at other conferences.
I tried to have two, impromptu, #Maker meetups, day 1 and day 2. I posted a 2 hour time and location in the app as well as on Twitter (several times). I had a suitcase of maker stuff with me (Keva, Strawbees, jewelry items, paper circuits, microbit, circuit playground express, makerbit, crickit, hummingbird bit, motors, servos, neopixels). Sadly, no one showed up. There were sessions going on at the time. There are always sessions going on. I did some programming experimentation. I hope that in the future OETC has a full, all day (all 3 days) #MakerSpace for people to spend time with activities, projects, materials, tools. They did have a couple of maker tables in the Playground aisle 100 of the vendor hall, in two hour increments. One I saw was making craft bookmarks, another time slot was 3D pens. That only works for people who have that time slot open.
I want to grow my network at conferences, find more people with ideas and plans. I did that a little, but with thousands of people there, it could have been more. Many conferences are not set up for that to happen easily. Sessions scheduled back to back or overlapping. You see people scattered all over the place having conversations, 2 over here, 3 over there. Would you feel comfortable sitting down and getting in on their convo? There are many places in the Convention Center to have conversations. But I also see many people sitting/walking alone. I don’t want to go up to them, because maybe they are an introvert and need the alone time. I think they need to have a designated networking area. A place where you know you will get involved in conversations , where people will expect you to get in on the conversation. A place like Bloggers Cafe at ISTE. Pod B, first floor, under the stairs is a space that would work well (pod A also, but some of those sessions flowed out into the space). I think networking is more important than sessions.