More than anything, this past weekend's Expanding our Boundaries conference in Toronto was about the people.
I mean, really, the crowd I was hanging out with for two days already knew how to do at least 95% of the things Will talked about. We've known all those things for quite some time. [although it was great to finally meet Will - - he's so real, eh?]
I have not been to a conference in years where the interaction was so "personalized". Let me explain by writing about the many folks I had either personal f2f conversations with on the weekend, or spoke with electronically.
First and foremost - - Tim Hawes, Shannon Smith , Barbara McLaughlin and Bruce Summers who I met via Twitter before the conference started and with whom I had my first Twitter meet-up. Now that was cool. Check out their blogs and tweets lots of good learning there.
Brenda Sherry who spoke about all the wonderful things she is doing for teachers. We had chats about project based learning, iPod Touch applications and our professional websites. Ann Shilolo from the Near North who spoke about her blogging and then stopped me in the hallway on Saturday afternoon to tell me that she had a tear in her eye after my story about how my son found one of his passions. Do you see what I mean? This conference was personal!
Nathan Toft and Jane Smith - - such amazing Canadian talent -- they demoed their podcast and after the talk Jane came over and gave me a fridge magnet - - it doesn't get any better than that. Jane then showed me their latest book and Nathan and I talked about a tech glitch which didn't allow their latest episode (6) to download properly.
Then there were the newbies Cathy and Mabel both of whom are brand new to the word of Web 2.0 -- and they are why I have a job. Delightful ladies. Cathy was at our table and kept plugging away until she got it. At one point I heard her say as Will will was explaining how to set up a Blogger account, "I didn't know how easy this was" - - followed by, on Saturday - - "This is amazing". I met Mabel before the Saturday session and helped her to open a G-mail account and create a Spec. Ed. blog. Mabel, if you are reading this, your smile and warm nature are amazing.
Geoff Day and Peter Skillen were on Tim's tech team. I talked with Geoff about how he was coordinating the AQ courses at OISE back in 1998 when I first started on this road. He reminded me how folks at the time were scared to death of taking the requirements course. Back then you had to pass a "technology quiz" to get in. Can you imagine doing that now-a-days? I had seen Peter at various events over the years but couldn't quite place him. When we talked he said that he is retired but saw a nifty job in the paper to work at an alternative YMCA school on Charles St. in Toronto. He's the Manager of Computer Applications and Teacher there. Now how cool is that? Good on ya' Pete!
There were many people sitting at nearby tables that I had brief but terrifiic conversations with about meaningful things. Doug Peterson, who sat beside me on Saturday lent me two sets of batteries, what a guy. I owe him a beverage of choice or two at NECC 2009. Doug, if you are reading this, I love your wacky sense of humour. David Weightman popped over to talk about screencasting. Rick Budd had Mac difficulties but was able to get it going again. Danika Barker, who is doing amazing things with Boys Writing and Amy Coupal who just took over as Executive Director at Curriculum.org had some terrific tweets and resources during the conference.
And I couldn't end this post without a shout out to Derek Potts, my SETS teammate who put up with my snoring on Thursday night.