Friday, June 11, 2010

Alphabet Soup: AIMA, (now ASLA), Library Media Symposum, & AETC

Alabama educators met in Birmingham for the Alabama Educational Technology Conference (AETC) and its offshoots this week, many of them clutching their iPads and iPhones, postponing summer break for a little bit. It was the end of an era as the Alabama Instructional Media Association (AIMA) resolved to change its name to the Alabama School Library Association (ASLA). I will admit, I prefer that option not only because of the nice parallel with the American Library Association but because so many people are flummoxed by the possessives in the other possibilities (Alabama School Librarians' Association, Alabama School Librarians' Association.)

Monday was the annual day-long AIMA conference, this year at Hoover High School. Dr Carolyn Starkey from Alabama State University led two sessions on e-readers, and I was happy to share my 2nd gen Kindle hardware, iPhone Kindle app and the PC software version on my tablet during both of those. Carolyn has a 1st gen Kindle and the larger format Kindle DX, Dr. Averil Loague from ASU showed the Kindle for iPad and iBooks, and Becky Thomas from Shades Valley shared her Nook, so we had a great range of hardware.

I was able to sit in on a third session, featuring Derrick Waddell, a dynamite teacher from West Point in Cullman County. His district saved $30,000 in moving from a sharepoint server to Google apps for email alone. In Derrick's session and in other throughout the week, I sensed that cloud computing was really gaining momentum, and the undeniable truth behind that interest is that many schools don't have the funding for printers and copiers.

Tuesday was the Library Media Symposium, a sort of preconference for the Alabama Education Technology Conference. I worked the registration desk all morning, and facilitated two sessions, one by our Renaissance Learning reps on using the Neo 2 for Accelerated Reader testing and other applications (including Google docs!), the other by ASLA president-elect Leanna Mills on web 2.0 applications.

At the AETC , Peter Reynolds, an animator and filmmaker and author of the creativity manifesto, The Dot, was the keynote speaker Wednesday morning. Over the two day conference, I learned about some new features of APTPlus, our state's public television educational arm and got to play with our state's new virtual library interface, which uses geolocation to authenticate users, meaning no more issuing of virtual library passwords! One of my favorite sessions was Lisa Buck's talk on using GPS in education. She has a wealth of resources on the topic. I was lucky enough to get to have dinner with the Discovery Educators Networks Stars and Danny Forster from Discovery's Science Channel production, Build It Bigger at Cafe Dupont.

Some things I found interesting:

Mypluick, which offers a simple interface for easily synchronizing uploaded powerpoint with audio files. which I head about from Discovery's Jennifer Dorman in a session called "Beyond Streaming."

Derrick Waddell shared a great use for Google Tasks -- keeping track of your day's conference sessions on his phone. I cam going to adopt that strategy for ALA. He also gave a really credible testimonial for the Droid and Verizon, though I am not quite ready to make that leap.

Leslie Fisher, a conference regular whose rapid-fire, lecture-format presentations suit my learning style precisely, lead nonstop sessions over the two days. As a hardware geek, I sat in on one on gadgets and one on iPhones. In her gadgets talk, Fisher said that, among memory cards, speed varies radically, so she recommends SandDisk Extreme and Lexar Professional media. With that and the subsequent the App store recommendations, Fisher's sessions were expensive!

What everyone else found interesting:

Throughout the week, the two applications I heard the most chatter about in the halls seemed to be Glogster
and Prezi. They're both graphical in nature and produce a sort of less linear presentation experience. Hmm. That and Mac's market share is increasing in a palpable way. It's exciting to see so many Alabama educators getting excited about using technology, and exciting to hear about all the hardware for student access out there in some districts, too.


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