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Starting Your Own Conference? You Can Do It.

It is conference season for educators in Indiana! The Indiana Connected Educators conference just finished, HECC and others are right around the corner. We got grades completed for the first quarter, looking forward to Thanksgiving, and holiday concerts with little kids dressed up as snowmen.

Maybe I’m bias but I think Indiana hosts the best educational conferences. Every conference I’ve attended has reenergized me, networked with great educators, and continued to teach me tricks I use with my students and family. The past few summers the INeLearn team has distributed grants for school districts to host educational technology conferences. After attending many conference outside my own school corporation, I thought it would be a great idea to host a conference in South Bend, Indiana. With little to no knowledge of what it takes to host a conference, my friend and coworker, Matt Modlin, and I applied for one of the summer of e-learning grants. We got a very polite ding letter suggesting to try to host a conference on our own and reapply next year. It was probably a good move on IDOE. After all our wives plan everything for us (we try to help). Plus the last “get-together” I hosted was a tailgate in college.

John Wooden said “There is nothing you know that you haven’t learned from someone else.”

So with the blessing of our South Bend Schools superintendent, Matt and I decided to host EdTech In The Bend this past August. Since we didn’t know what we were doing we learned from others. The success of EdTech In the Bend was because of the network we have built at ICE, #INeLearn Twitter Chat, the EdTechHeroes, Team South Bend, and a full year of planning. I called experience hosts like Sarah Margeson from Ignite and Barry Stone from Vincennes for pointers. We built a diverse team to help. Our conference board had elementary to high school teachers, principals, athletic director, financial administrator, community stakeholders, custodians, IT, and students. Our students were the rockstars of the conference. They are the reason we better our classrooms and buildings.

Tech made our conference achievable.

All of our presenters signed up from either Twitter or Facebook posts. We all love Google Forms to collect information for our classes or presenters. I took Forms to another level with the add-on: AutoCrat. Autocrat helped me email presenters & vendors, create a description of the breakout sessions, create the schedule for the day, and signs for the classrooms. Eventbrite made registration easy. Eventbrite collected registration, money, and even sent us reminders of things to do for our conference.

I learned so much from so many leading up to the conference. We are looking forward to hosting EdTech In the Bend 2017 with more technology, more students & staff, and more fun.

Also when you are doing something awesome, invite the news teams! Local News Story

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