CAIS: My PLN before Twitter

For the past six years I have been attending the CAIS Academic Technology Retreat. It is held at the Trinity Conference Center in Cornwall, CT. This conference is one that I look forward to every year. It is a time for learning, reflecting, making new connections and re-connecting with “old” friends. This year’s retreat did not disappoint!

Our Keynote was Jennifer Klein from World Leadership School. Jennifer spoke about connecting globally through technology.  Jennifer shared examples of successful projects and she also discussed the challenges in connecting with different locations around the world.  Her lecture set a great tone for the rest of the conference. Here are our collective “twitter notes” from the session. A friend and fellow attendee, Andrew Speyer, wrote a blogpost on this very topic.  “Taking Notes With Twitter”  I couldn’t agree with Andrew more! Twitter helps me learn, keeps me engaged, and I have my notes to help me reflect and tie things together.

We spent the next 45 minutes sharing some of our favorite Web 2.0 tools. This was a perfect segue into the next part of the conference. It was an “un-conference”.   Here are the sessions/ conversations that happened over the course of the two days.  I led a  few conversations: How do we get students to go beyond Google for research (using Diigo)? and Using Twitter as a tool for “on demand” Professional Development. I also learned a lot about Google Sketchup and had conversations about Vodcasting/ Flipped Classroom, Digital Citizenship and Using Blogs for Professional Development.

While I learned a lot, the sessions weren’t the most valuable part of the conference.  The best part came in the informal conversations that happened on our afternoon walk, on the porch listening to friends playing guitar, over our wonderful meals and sitting around the couch playing Tech- Pictionary (yes- a little geeky!).  It was during these conversations that I learned even more than any one session or in the keynote! In the midst of all of this, I realized something very profound…

This is my original PLN (Personal Learning Network)- a non- digital, face to face, real PLN! 

…my PLN before Twitter. I love Twitter and value it to learn and grow every day. But, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my CAIS (Connecticut Association of Independent Schools) PLN.  Their collective advice, inspiration, knowledge and support has been invaluable to me and my career.

Elizabeth Preston said this very thing in our closing Commission Meeting. These are people I respect, I value and I look forward to being with  (face to face) as often as possible!