Sunday, November 9, 2014

VT Fest 2014... and moving forward...

Vermont Fest 2014 is a wrap... and I'd say by the feedback I've viewed thus far we're on the right track.

I've been the emcee for many conferences and sessions, but the credit to make events like this happen ranges far and wide. There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make events like this work.

My sincere thanks to the following...

The passionate educators who presented at this years conference and embraced the theme of 'Creative Learning in Agile Schools.' The feedback from these sessions has been excellent. We'll make the feedback for each presenter available soon and use that feedback to steer our next round of selections.

The folks who staffed the Maker section, and my friend Caleb Clark from the VITA-Learn (VL) board who organized and facilitated the space. All these great folks gave attendees a chance to learn. 'Mind and hand,' the motto from MIT, is something we're pursuing here and to keep encouraging educators to move more activity into their classrooms and create deeper learning opportunities. Getting students involved rather than being passive observers... Gary Stager, the keynote speaker from DL last Spring, spins it as "less us, more them." I've always liked that motto since I heard it so many years ago when I heard Gary and the great Seymour Papert speak so many years ago in Maine.

Chris Lehmann from the Science Leadership Academy (SLA) got us off to a great start with the opening keynote. The elegance of simplicity, and the complexity and hard work behind it is something I've admired about Chris' work and of the other folks from SLA. As always, Chris set a good tone and gave people some ideas to rally around.

Matt Dunne, Head of Community Affairs at Google, whipped up the perfect closing keynote. Humorous, thought provoking, and with a few challenges was the perfect recipe to end a very busy few days.

The Killington Grand makes a great stage for VT Fest. We'll be exploring some ideas to create some new learning spaces, and expand our social activities and the pacing of the event itself to help attendees have more time to collaborate and enjoy these great facilities.

Our sponsors for the event, executive and corporate, generate a lot of opportunities for attendees to explore. We'll be working with these folks for our next slate of events to promote more interactive learning opportunities.

Our tech crew, Fred Wadlington, Mike Lambert, and the folks from the resort did some great work. Setup was streamlined for the presenters and Wifi connectivity was exceptional this year, the best we've seen since VT Fest landed at the Grand more than 10 years ago.

Steve Jarrett, our Communications Director at VL did great work leading up to, during, and now following the event. The VL website, conference website, and our conference flow on does take some time to craft and Steve stays on top of it all. We've got some changes on the way that will make these even better.

The VITA-Learn board who has refocused it's efforts over the last two years toward creativity at our conferences and regional PD. Our conferences should fulfill a mixed bag of needs. They should constantly expand beyond tools themselves and delve more deeply into promoting connections with students, and encouraging creativity and pedagogical growth both personally and professionally. We're making some great progress.

Our explorative and creative focus on the VL board made possible by our Executive Director and my good friend Paul Irish. Board work can be a chore, especially if it's mired in production work. Paul streamlines this demand so we can focus on creativity and we're all grateful for it. Ed Barry and Susan Hoffer, the longtime conference directors do a ton of work behind the scenes to make things work and flow. As a board, we can pass on our creative ideas and research to these folks and collectively we can set things in motion.

For my part as emcee, VITA-Learn (VL) President, and one of the organizers, it's a privilege to work with all thee talented folks to move things forward.

I spent the weekend resting up, reflecting, reading and jotting down some ideas for the future. Karyn Vogel's reflective post from VT Fest 2014 is one of my favorites I've read thus far. The Twitter hashtags we used for the event #VTFest2014 and #vtED will show you what was cooking as well.

Personally, I saw so many folks... many familiar faces and many new ones. Catching up, laughing, exploring, and crafting new ideas in these setting is always both healing and inspiring.

It's a lot of work... and we've done a great job of distributing it all and collaborating on creativity.

If you had fun at this years VT Fest 2014, DL last Spring, or the 1-1 conference, spread the word.

We're just getting started.

We've got some great ideas brewing already.

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