Friday, May 15, 2015

iEngage Berwyn- The Beginning

Have you ever envisioned something so big, that involved teachers, students, admins, maintenance, custodians, a photographer, a videographer, tech support, parents, and an audience of 400+ people?

Gymnasium at the District Office was
transformed for site visitors
After attending iPadpalooza in Austin, TX where +Carl Hooker lead a team at Eanes Independent School District last summer to put on their 3rd Annual Conference, I began to think... Why can't we host our first EdTech Conference in Berwyn South District 100? An "idea" became a somewhat organized plan while attending Michele Tissiere's Cognitive Coaching PD on June 23-24, 2014 in Berwyn. This 2-day training was one of the best workshops I've attended in my 10 yr educational career (& I didn't even open my device)! When Michele asked for a volunteer to participate in a planning conversation, I immediately raised my hand.

Now here I am sitting in front of 40+ colleagues explaining my "plan" for hosting a conference. I was extremely nervous (knowing I was going to need help & buy in from the people sitting in front of me). But, by the end of the conversation I was feeling confident with a plan to get started. The first thing I needed was a team and a date. On July 8th I reached out to all the attendees + D100 admins and invited them to join a committee to host our first conference. I named the group the iLead Team and asked them to fill out a Google Form if they were interested as well as to share some of their strengths and ideas they had for the conference.
Wordle generated to collect the adjectives that describe the iLead team when asked, "What are your strengths?"
As the responses came in, our leadership team began to form and we set a date for our first meeting. I've shared a basic timeline below, but if you're interested in hosting your own conference here are my biggest takeaways...

iSWAT Student Volunteers 
  1. Share your vision for your conference- What will it look like? Who is your target audience? What are your goals? 
  2. Put all efforts into your leadership team, listen to them for ideas and feedback, but make decisions when necessary.
  3. Create places for team collaboration (ie Google + Community) and set all meetings dates right off the bat!
  4. Assign committee leaders & meet with them outside the whole team meetings. (Our leaders meet from 2-3, then the rest of the team joined from 3:15-5 on the same day.)
  5. Create incentives and get your staff interested in the conference, without them you don't have a conference! (i.e. At a fall Institute Day, whichever school had the most staff register received a Bagel & Coffee breakfast.)
  6. Publicize your event on social media, talk about it at other conferences you attend, get presenters, attendees, VIP's & vendors tweeting about the event!
  7. Include STUDENTS- this is WHY we are in education!
  8. Make sure all committee members get to experience the conference too! Sign up to present, attend a session, & network.
    My partner in crime +Lindsey Bryant
    who had the biggest impact
    on making iEngage Berwyn POSSIBLE
  9. If you are the host, create a slide deck ready to input timelines, wifi passwords, presenter introductions, raffle winners & prizes, etc.
  10. Create a checklist for what to do AFTER the conference (including take a vacation day)! ; )

iEngage Berwyn exceeded my expectations. I have never been so proud of School District 100! An event like this truly needed everyone working together, each of us with our own strengths. We hosted 486 people from 6 states in 2 days, and because of the incredible twitter feed we helped influence students across the world!

Basic Timeline

  • July 17, 2014 iLead Kicked Off Meeting, Conference Dates revealed, expectations shared, Name (iEngage Berwyn) & Hashtag (#iengagebwyn) decided
  • July 23, 2014 Website URL Secured, Google +  Community, Shared Calendar & Trello Board Created for iLead team collaboration
  • August 7, 2014 Keynote Speakers Announced, collaboration for sharing conference vision to district on Institute Day(s)
  • September 4, 2014 Introduce website and committees formed
  • October 2, 2014 DAQRI joined iLead meeting, live Google Hangout was recored on The Two Guys Show #39
  • November 20, 2014 Proposals due for Break out & Poster Sessions
  • December 4, 2014 Proposals reviewed, committees collaborate on "day of" outline & schedule 
  • January 15, 2015 Logos and t-shirt design finalized, volunteer schedule started, sponsorship push
  • February 12, 2015 -Shirts delivered to iLead team to be recognized as well as promote iEngage at Institute Day, public registration opens using Sched & Eventbrite as platform
  • March 12, 2015 Special Events (APPmazing Race, Dream Big with myON, and Adult Social Event) planning, Leadership Panel secured Dr. Rich Voltz to monitor, site visit leaders chosen for 8 buildings
  • April 2, 2015 & April 30, 2015 Set Up finalized, final registration push, signage printed, food ordered, check in with all presenters & volunteers
  • May 8th, 2015 Site Visit Day arrived, all hands on deck!
  • May 9th, 2015 Conference Day arrived, all hands on deck!