So, I've got my own panel, I'm speaking on another panel, and I'm looking forward to the conference. Why, then, did I spend most of my morning walk today thinking about creating a conference that is educator-centric? Isn't this conference educator-centric?
Well actually, no. You see this conference is set during the week before spring break for most of this state's schools. So very few teachers will be able to attend. I will be attending only after taking two personal days and having the school district pay for a sub for each day.
Why did they set this conference up then? Well I have my ideas but, instead, I'd like to think about how great this conference could have been. What would be my ideal conference? Hmmmmm............
First, from all I have heard, the conference would have to have the feel of an Educon. I've already told the principal at that school that I would like to run a conference like that at our school and he said I could bounce ideas off of him. Next it would have to have a lot of tech,like ISTE. Wait, we already have TCEA so Austin already takes care of the tech side of the house.
This conference needs to happen when teachers could actually attend. If it keeps the name SXSW it needs to be during the week of Spring Break. Yes there are tons of people in Austin already but a few hundred more wouldn't be a big deal. But does it (a) have to keep the SXSW logo, and (b) does it have to be during the same week?
What other time could this be done? An obvious time is between mid June and the first of August when most teachers are on summer vacation. The trouble with this is that there are already many other conferences, including ISTE, and there are also professional development requirements that teachers are meeting during the summers. Oh, and some teachers actually take a personal vacation.
Then there's the Fall. This would work if there was a weekend conference as long as the University of Texas(UT) football team wasn't in town or if there wasn't a game like the Oklahoma game for UT where many of the Texas teachers would be preoccupied.
I am going to go out on a limb and say that SXSW will allow us to keep the name no matter what time of year we do the conference. And, I'm going to state that the conference will be a Friday, Saturday, Sunday conference in the mold of Educon. The first day would be at my school and that would allow for student led panels and students could run the technology for the classrooms being used. And, I would call it SXSWeducon. So, mark your calendars for September 30, 2011. (And not just because it's my wedding anniversary.)
That's right September 30 (DAY1): Shuttle Buses leave from downtown Austin to arrive at 8:30 - 9:00 at Manor New Technology High School. KEYNOTE: 9:00 First Sessions start at 9:45 and go until 4:45. Lunch is provided and shuttle buses start round trips to downtown Austin at 11:30. Last bus leaves Manor New Tech at 6:00 PM.
(DAY 2) and (Day 3) : Sessions start at 8:30 and end at 5:15 and are located in Austin.
Yes there are a LOT of details to work out. But with SXSW people helping me (overall) and Manor ISD people helping me with the September 30th plans. This will be an incredibly powerful and meaningful conference. You better sign up at the early bird prices. We're capping it at 150 people and it will sell out quickly.
(You do realize this is a fantasy, don't you?)