Monday, February 27, 2012

My road to Podcamp Western MA

Well I attended my first Podcamp last week and it was awesome. What is a Podcamp?? It is an un-conference about social media and online networking. It is an open and collaborative event with discussions and interaction from attendees. Anyone with something to contribute or with the desire to learn is welcome and invited to join. Some sessions will be planned ahead of the event, but plenty of spaces will be open for the topics YOU want to discuss and learn. Tickets are $30 ($10 for students), but all are expected to participate and/or present. You can participate by giving a presentation, demo, or joining into another cooperative event, being on a panel/roundtable, or in other ways helping out on event day.

I heard about Podcamp Western Mass.  Several years ago when I started using Twitter. I had followed a few people with ties to Western Ma. Realizing that by doing so I became much more intune with what was going on in my community. I attended a few WesternMa Tweetups . At first I was very nervous. As a middle school teacher I constantly teach my students not to meet people they talk to online. This seemed to be a bit hypocritical of me to then go and meet all my Twitter friends. I tend to share my technology adventures with my students and refuse to be anything but 100% honest with them. (If you loose a middle schoolers trust they will chew you up and spit you out.) I turned out to be a good teachable moment.

The tweetups were great I was able to put faces to names and meet more people and increase my #westernma following. I was also able to collaborate with others and really learn more about technology which in turn made me a better educator. What was best was I was able to make some new friendships with people I would ordinarily never meet.

That of course led to the Podcamp Western MA 4. Every year in the past has been on the day of my kids swim Championships. Finally this year they did not conflict. To off I went to my first Podcamp. I was actually quite anxious. Thankfully when I arrived my twitter friend @mmpartee met greeted me and his son who is my student said hello and from that point my anxiety went away.

  • I received my first interactive shirt.
  • My cool swag bag.
  • I followed @BusinewsChannel answered a question correct and won a filtered water bottle.
  • Went to a presentation by @ThomasJFox on Social Media Putting it all Together
  • Learned about Pinterest from @LesleyLambert
  • Pod casting was discussed by David Pakman .
  • Monitoring your Online Reputation was very helpful by @massmarketing
  • Improved my Google+ skills from @AlSantaniello
Now because it was an Unconference some of the rules of etiquette are reversed.
  • It is ok to be on your phone, ipad, laptop or other devices.
  • Tweeting, Texting, Facebooking and other social networking tools are strongly encouraged to be used during the presentations.
  • It is OK to switch to another presentation when you want.
  • Discussions, questions, and sharing are welcomed in each presentation.
Because of the openness of the presentations I learned about
So I have been trying to digest all of the amazing things that I learned and trying to figure out where it will best help me in my personal and professional life. Its important to make sure that what you learn is not just a "time suck" as stated at Podcamp. I need to now spend my time figuring how to make the best out of what I learned. That should take me about 365 days until next years Podcamp. 

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