I spent the first half of this school year taking a graduate class that was required for me to renew my certification. It was a good class, and I learned a lot, but it did take a decent amount of time each week for me to complete the assignments. (Had it not done so it possibly wouldn't have been a good class, but that's an assertion for another day.)
The class ended in December, and I began looking forward to all the "free time" I would have. "Free time" is in quotes, of course, because my time was not actually free before I enrolled in that course. I simply put off some responsibilities for others. You may have noticed I'm blogging a little more now - that's one thing I'd been neglecting, and I apologize for that.
Unless you liked the fact I was blogging less, and in that case I'd apologize for my return to the blogosphere if I wasn't wondering why you're reading this in the first place.
*Ahem.* Let's move on.
As I'm getting back into the swing of things I'm noticing that conference season is in full swing. MICCA's deadline to submit presentation proposals is almost here, NECC is local-ish this year, and PETE&C is just around the corner.
That brings my rambling to a topic worth discussing. Every year the Discovery Education Network runs a day long pre-conference for PETE&C. I've attended more than once, and every time I felt it was worth it. Forget the fact that it's held in Hershey, PA, a town that smells like chocolate for very obvious reasons, it's also free for DEN Star members. I've held that status for a while now, as do many of my friends who I will only get to see in person at events like this.
And I'm thinking of not going.
It's not because of my wife's health. Though she's not at her best right now, I honestly think she'd enjoy and benefit from a weekend out of the house. (Though I shudder to think how much money she'd spend in Hershey, that's only me fulfilling my stereotypical duty as a husband.)
It's not because of the cost. Gas prices are relatively down, and I have family that's somewhat close to Hershey where we could spend a night or two if needed. I'm not attending the full PETE&C conference anyway, so that price isn't even a factor.
It's because I'm not sure how much I'd learn.
OK, that sounded like a jab against the DEN, so let' take a moment to explain it a little better.
On the grand scale of technological geekery (yes, I made that word up), where a 1 means I have trouble checking my email and a 10 means I can whistle into a phone line and get a 56k connection, I'm about a 4. To people who rank 1 or 2 I appear to be a 10, but I know better. Right now I'm at the stage where the more I learn, the more I find out how much I don't know. It's exciting and depressing at the same time, because I really would like to know everything.
... but maybe not reach 10 on that scale - I can't whistle very well.
Back on topic. The DEN is awesome because they take teachers, many of which are 1 and 2 on the aforementioned scale, and turn them into 3s and 4s.
But I'm already a 4, which means I'm not learning as much. Google Earth is great, but I don't need to see another workshop that explains why it's great.
The DEN blogs? An awesome, free service that's worth checking out. When new features are added I like to know about them, but that's because I want to know if I should install them on my own blog.
Discovery Education Streaming? The Builders? Microblogging? Digital storytelling? I could go on, but I don't need to. There's more I could learn on each of these topics, but I strongly doubt I would learn much because I'm not the DEN's target audience at this pre-conference.
If I did go, it would be to socialize. To see people face to face that I haven't seen in months if not longer (and in some cases never, much to my regret...), and to share with each other what we've learned and experienced over that time. I'd like to do that. To me it's one of the most enjoyable parts of a conference - any conference.
But if I do that, I'll probably be filling up a spot that some one else could have used. Someone who may very well need the DEN to teach them the things that I already know enough about to run my own workshops.
I don't think that would be fair to them.
So I really hope those of you that will be at PETE&C this year will be liveblogging it, if for no other reason than to let me live vicariously through your posts. You don't have any excuse not to, since you already have a blog provided to you by the DEN.
I'll be watching.