The first NPS Summer Tech Challenge is officially over! Where did the summer go? I thought I'd take a minute and give my reflection of the Summer Tech Challenge and let you know the real reason behind the STC.
When I originally came up with the idea for the Summer Tech Challenge, I had a few goals in mind. First and foremost, I wanted to get teachers connected. Not only did I want them to connect with the education world at large (thus the Blogger, Twitter and Pinterest challenges) but I wanted to connect teachers within our district. I think a lot of times we get so busy doing what we do in our buildings that we forget that we have wonderful and talented teachers all across the district. After reading through the blogs and seeing comments that were made and help that was offered and ideas that were generated, I think teachers definitely connected.
Secondly, I wanted the challenges to be, well, challenging! I purposely did not give step by step directions in most of the challenges. I did give some directions throughout but I really wanted to stretch people technology wise and have them go out and find additional help if they needed it. I tried to give links to helpful websites in the hope that people would use them if needed. Some people were probably able to explore the technologies on their own and learn how to use them that way--they didn't need my directions. I also decided to have some tools in the Challenge that wouldn't be too difficult or that people already had experience using, like Pinterest. I wanted to have a good mix of difficulty and I think I did.
Third, I wanted to get more #npspanthers on Twitter! I have learned so much in the year that I have been on Twitter that I wanted to share that with other teachers. The Twitter challenge was probably the hardest challenge for a lot of teachers. I appreciate everyone's willingness to at least give it a try. And I sincerely hope that you keep Tweeting. I cannot fathom how I did my job before I was on Twitter. I cannot fathom how teachers expect to stay current on anything, technology or pedagogy or anything in education, without being on Twitter.
Now, if I were to do this again, what would I change? Well, right off I knew that I should have included a question on the completion forms for each Challenge that had people list which blogs they had commented on. As it was, I had to look through every blog in the Challenge to find comments. This took quite awhile! If I did this again, I would definitely include something on the form for people to indicate who's blog they commented on.
When I started the Challenge, I intended to comment on every blog post written. I did pretty good in the beginning, but as more and more people started to participate, I missed several blog posts. I usually took weekends off and lots of people spent their weekends working on the Challenges. I would have actually had to monitor the blogs every day to have been able to keep up. But I decided that I needed some time off!
I really thought that doing my summer tech training online would be easier for me. Ha! Was I every wrong on that. I worked on the Summer Tech Challenge five days a week for two to three hours each day. If I had done two weeks of in person training like I did last summer, I would have worked maybe three weeks total to plan and deliver the training. So people who think that online teaching is easier, it isn't.
And now, the REAL reason for the Summer Tech Challenge. I had back surgery on June 10 and I just didn't know if I would be ready to do in person training before school started. I knew that I had to do some kind of training and that is why the Summer Tech Challenge was born. I could have taken the summer off and offered no technology training of any kind. But I also knew (or thought) I had a pretty good thing going in the way of technology training. If I took the summer off, I thought I would lose some of the momentum I had built up in the way of technology training. I knew that I had to offer something and I was pretty sure I could if I had to, lay on my back and monitor people's progress. Fortunately, that didn't happen. I was able to sit in my chair in my home office (or some days, on my couch in front of the TV) and keep track of everyone in the Summer Tech Challenge.
Overall, I am very pleased with how the Summer Tech Challenge went. I got to know a few more people in the district and I got to see the wonderful work that everyone produced. If you haven't done so, I encourage you to take a look at the blogs in the Summer Tech Challenge. Almost everything the teachers in the Summer Tech Challenge produced are embedded on their blogs. I guarantee that you will get some ideas on how you can use these tools in your classroom. The blog URLs are embedded on the Challenge 1 page--scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the URLs.
The Summer Tech Challenge remains open for viewing. If you didn't have a chance to take a look at the challenges this summer, feel free to browse through them this year.
And those of you who were in the Challenge, I hope you continue to blog throughout the year. Remember a blog is a great way to reflect--just like I'm doing here. Or if you find a cool new technology tool or do a cool lesson in your classroom, blog about that. I really enjoyed reading everyone's blog posts even if I didn't get to comment on all of them.
So now you know the REAL reason behind the Summer Tech Challenge.