GaETC Conference Report

downloadIf you’re expecting a round up or overview of the entire Georgia education technology conference you’ve come to the wrong place.  This is pretty much just about about the educator Doug Johnson.

My principal got a handful of tickets to this big state ed tech conference and I got to go yesterday.  I’m also going Friday.  I have to share my ticket so had to pick what days I was going.  When I looked at the featured speaker list on their website and saw the name Doug Johnson I immediately decided I’d go whatever days he was presenting.  Problem was, they never put the schedules on the website.  So I emailed Doug myself and he emailed his schedule right back.  I needn’t have worried. He’s speaking all three days.

Yesterday I fully intended to see more sessions than just Doug Johnson ones but other than the keynote speaker, I saw three Doug Johnson talks and missed two random ones so it was an all Doug Johnson conference for me. That’s cool.  This one guy covered a lot of ground.

I saw his discussion of library design in the 21st century called Changed but Still Critical: Bricks and Mortar Libraries in the Digital Age which was the most attended of his three talks. That’s the one I wish my administrator could have attended. I saw his new thoughts on creativity in schools in Changing the One-Right-Answer Mentality: the Subversive Educator’s Guide to Creativity.  Finally I saw his discussion of ebooks in the Media Center called A Novel Approach to Building an E-book Collection.

Doug after I talked his ear off…

Doug Johnson is a former media specialist turned technology director who knows his stuff and wants to share what he’s learned.  It’s not a lot of “isn’t this amazing” tech talk, it’s more practical and down to earth but still grounded in theory and a strong sense of what’s best for students and teachers. He’s been writing great columns for library media journals for years.  He’s also a prolific blogger and has published books on all things media/ed tech related.  He’s always thoughtful, explains himself well and, while he would be the first to disagree, is usually right.  He’s definitely improved my practice and made me think about the ways I want my media program to work to do the best I can for students and teachers.

I told him as much at the evening reception after the main conference yesterday.  The conference organizers had set up quite a party with great food, great service and even live music.  That was the problem, though.  Don’t they realize most of us would rather just talk?  So I convinced Doug to allow me to buy him a drink over at his overpriced fancy hotel.  As pooped out as we both were we ate, we drank, and we talked about everything.  He’s a fun, funny, interesting guy who has traveled and taught in many different places and is still excited to share what he’s learned.

Then came the bill.  Here was Doug.  Out later than he probably wished after a full day of conferencing, in a fancy hotel bar because I talked him into it, and what does he do?  Of course.  He insists on picking up the tab.  He’s too nice for his own good.

I definitely owe him one.

P.S. I was telling Doug I worked for a humongous school district but didn’t know any numbers off the top of my head.  Here she is.  She’s BIG.


One thought on “GaETC Conference Report

  1. Doug Johnson

    Hi Jim,

    I am flattered and humbled (and a little embarrassed. From exchanging ideas on line through email and blog posts, you long felt like a friend and kindred spirit. One of the most gratifying experience of attending conferences is learning that one’s talks and writings have made a difference to others, and the GAETC is no exception. (Southern hospitality and graciousness is a fact, not a myth.) Thank you for your kind words and you company at dinner was more than payment. See you tomorrow.


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