When I first joined the board of SET Connections the first SPEDcamp which had been organized by Chris Vacek had just fallen through and I was highly disappointed. So, I began floating the idea to the Executive Director of SET Connections Judy Okazaki. Little did I know that a year and a half later on November 3rd, 2012 I would be chairing the first ever SET Connection SPUN Conference, an un-conference dedicated solely to Special Education.
Somehow I was able to coerce my good friend Don Goble (who incidentally I have never met in person) to kick off the event via a Slide Share presentation which was given via a Google + Hangout (I will post the hangout as soon as I can offload it to the SET Connections account). His topic Media Literacy Through Video Creation was captivating and informative. He made it clear that media could be used to differentiate learning and connect with students in ways that textbooks cannot. The other major point that resonated with me was somewhat affirmation of something I have been saying for years: if you can take a leap and approach technology without fear, it to take you places that were inaccessible just a few decades ago.
When Don's keynote concluded there was an affable buzz in the air as attendees were probably not sure how the rest of the day would go (since for many this was their first unconference.) After introducing the idea that the day would be modeled after the edcamp philosophy, the participants set the schedule for the day by proposing topics to be discussed during three breakout session in four to five available rooms. As expected, IPads and applications were at the forefront of what people wanted to talk about. Other topics included using Google Hangout (which was obviously sparked by the keynote), creating historical online timelines and geocaching. Each session had a dedicated Google Doc allowing the participants to take notes and share the information they acquired during the day. These documents can be found at: https://sites.google.com/site/2012spun/
Following a brief lunch, it was time for one of my favorite parts of any event like this the: "Smack Down". This was an opportunity to share some things people had learned throughout the day or throughout the year. A review of these apps and tools can be found on the main page of the SET SPUN Conference site. Intermingled with the sharing were some wonderful door prizes provided by SET as well as Discovery Education, Evernote and Google
While I left the event exhausted, I also felt refreshed and full of new enthusiasm. I think everyone left this special day with at least one takeaway which they can cultivate throughout the year. I'm hoping we will be able to put on a similar SPUN Conference in the future and that we get an even larger crowd the next time around. It's amazing the ideas that can be generated when they are given a venue like this one to explore! Keep the conversation happening and share you experience of the SET Connections SPUN Conference by adding a comment below!