Thursday, August 14, 2014

Facebook or Face to Face- (The DEN Summer Institute)

  Over the last six or seven years I have become a consistent user of Social Media both Facebook and Twitter.  Due to this there seems to be a variety of jokes and inquiries, which all seem to lead back to one question; Am I replacing my face to face relationships for online relationships?  I think that is really not a fair question, because in reality one is just an extension of the other. I have never attempted to replace my face to face relationships with online ones. Although I will admit I do have some online friends whom I interact with quite regularly and refer to as my friends, but I  have never had the pleasure of meeting face to face. Some as far away as Tasmania and I am not sure that my life would be the same without these connections. I know the experiences for my students would not be the same either and my classroom is a richer and fuller place to be since I have opened it up to the world.  It is one thing to talk, read and even see videos about concepts such as time zones, but it adds a whole new level understanding when you are in communication with friends in real time on the other side of the world.

     With that said, there are some face to face events that I am honored to take part in that helps to promote those online relationships and top on my list is Discovery Education's Summer Institute (DENSI). Each summer Discovery Education bring about one hundred fifty educators together from all over the United States, Canada and this year the United Kingdom to a week long experience. I have used the word experience, because it is much more than just a conference. Many have referred to it as the the family reunion you would choose to attend, but to me it is like summer camp when you were a child. The Discovery Education Staff go out of their way to create a space for and encourage attendees to build relationships that extend past the five days we spend together. This has been my experience and truly nothing can replace those memories we have shared.

  I believe that learning needs to be a process and that includes my own learning as well as my students' learning. DENSI in many ways is the beginning of so much new learning for me. This past summer some of that learning included: more about SAMR Model, Inquiry Learning, Augmented Reality, Grant Writing, DE Virtual Tours, and Coding. Along with that learning came a variety of other educators who are using or have used these ideas successfully and much like our individual classrooms we become a community of learners. Those relationships and that learning continues throughout the year online. I have DEN friends all over my Facebook Page, Twitter Feed, within my Glide Account, and I even have a group of DEN Stars whom I text with on almost a daily basis.  Discovery Education believes in the power of building those connections and their support in this effort does not stop with DENSI. It continues throughout the year with ongoing event, such as: #denchats each Thursday night at 8:00 pm on Twitter and DENvice on Facebook.

   As I sit here in my classroom at the beginning of the the 2014-15 school year I know I don't go in alone.  At the end of this year's DENSI 2014 Discovery Education Staffer, Dean Shareski, put a video together entitled Thank You DENSI 2014 and we all loved it. However, like learning each of our experiences at DENSI 2014 was personal and I have stolen his idea using my personal photos from DENSI 2014 to create my own Thank You DENSI video. 

A group of us met a couple of days before the conference and some of these shots were taken during that time period.

Finally, if you would like to check out archived session from DENSI 2014 here is that link.