Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Reflecting on #CSTA2018

I feel like I have really fallen behind on reporting on the CSTA Conference in Omaha. Part of the problem is being a bit overwhelmed. Usually I write blog posts in boring sessions. I didn’t attend any boring sessions.  I have to absorb some of it and I will write a more detailed post soon. I hope.

Right now I am sitting in an airport waiting for a delayed flight and not up to gathering all my notes. Who am I kidding. What I have for notes are tweets I have posted with the #CSTA2018 hashtag. A lot of people tweeted a lot of good stuff and others have already posted summaries on blogs.

This conference was a bit different for me. I wasn’t there as a presenter, a CSTA board member, or representing a company. Just me – teacher from New Hampshire. In some ways that was freeing but it felt different. The size of the conference is different as well. Back when there were 50 or 60 of us at the conference I knew almost everyone. At 700 attendees there was an amazing number of new faces. First time attendees. People brand new to teaching Computer Science and people in district roles that didn’t exist a few years ago.

That’s not a bad thing at all. It’s a great thing. When we were so small a group we risked too much group think. Now we have lots and lots of views. Having people with so many backgrounds and experiences is an amazing opportunity. So while I loved spending time with people I have known for years and years it was wonderful to meet and talk to so many new people.

A lot of people told me they read this blog or follow me on Twitter (@AlfredTwo) which was very encouraging. Like many who post to social media I don’t always know if there is anyone out there or if I am yelling in a vacuum. Speaking of Twitter. I talked about that already but it was humming. Lots more teachers are tweeting these days. It really is a good way to share information.

The exhibit hall was a lot larger this year,. I blogged about that the other day (Pictures From #CSTA2018) and I really appreciate the companies and organizations (three universities for example) who show up to talk to teachers. Even at 700 attendees, CSTA has an atmosphere that is a lot more conducive to real conversations with exhibitors than a conference like ISTE or TCEA (as great as those conferences are in their own ways.)

There were a lot of people who were at CSTA because of company funded scholarships. Rolls Royce funded about 25 people (including me). Oracle Academy provided grants and goodie bags to a bunch of people. Google provided money for CSTA Chapter leaders to come for two days of special training and the conference. This is real support of teacher development. These companies understand the need for teachers who actually know what they are doing and are willing to put some money behind their talk.

If you were there and we didn’t connect I am sorry. 700 people can make that harder than we might like. I hope though that you had some great conversations with others and learned as much as I did.

Next year CSTA will be in Phoenix, Arizona from July 7th to 10th, 2019. It’s going to be even better. I just know it.


Anonymous said...

Great to see you (and your hats!) there. Yes, I agree, there's a buzz there that I was excited to see. Lots of exciting announcements, and the future looks bright! Till next time....

Mike Zamansky said...

It's always cool when someone comes up and tells you they read your blog or follow you on twitter.

I also got to play fanboy a bit. Last year, I really wanted to meet Fred Martin in person but didn't get the chance. As it turned out, he introduced my talk so I got to meet him this time around.

I also turned fanboy when I saw Michelle Friend after her talk which I really loved.

Even with 700 the conference felt pretty intimate. I hope as the community grows more we can maintain the same closeness.