It was my third ISTE, and it was also my third time presenting at the International Society for Technology in Education Conference. But this time was different…

Owning the Experience

I can’t tell you how excited I was to share one of my biggest passion projects ever!

I started #hashtag180 in analog mode in 2005, continued on twitter in 2013, and then officially named and launched in 2017. In the #Hashtag180 process, educators capture media in our everyday world, hashtag it with a specific standard/objective, and post it on social media. We can literally create our own curriculum-hashtag-specific global library of resources to make teaching and learning better for all. When educators hashtag with purpose, they can archive, share, and tell their learning journeys to the world.

I had presented versions of #HashtagWithPurpose at the county level and at the state level with Bill Ferriter, but this was my first time presenting #Hashtag180 at the international level–AND presenting this topic by myself.

There was no security blanket. If something went wrong–I was completely on my own. There were no friendly faces to trouble-shoot technology glitches, for example. There were no co-presenters to share ideas, dissolve potential anxieties, and address last-minute changes. There was no one there to help break the ice, so to speak, or to set the tone or climate.

It was just me–and my ideas–to share with the world.

Risk, fail, or reward–It’s gonna happen!

But isn’t this the same kind of risk-fail-reward learning that we expect from our learners in the classroom? How I felt in the moments leading up to a major presentation must pale in comparison to how many students feel before taking risks in front of their peers on a daily basis.

My eyes were re-opened to the network and supports I DO have, and I realized all over again just how grateful I am for so many friends from whom I learn every day.

Because at the same time, I wasn’t alone at all. I had a huge network I could access thru a device more powerful than the moon landing shuttle–right there in my pocket. I had many friends that proofread my slides and offered advice on presentation features and flow. I was reminded that to truly connect with an audience, you have to have both content AND presentation skills. You have to speak to the heart’s why before activating the mind’s how.

But how would I funnel over thirteen years of my passion project into just thirty minutes? I would have to prioritize the most important activities and distill very carefully exactly what I wanted to say. I would have to use less characters, more character.

Modeling the Process

It can be challenging to visualize how to do something when someone just tells you about it. What does this kind of learning process look like? I mean, who has ever heard of mapping learning and teaching resources through hashtags?

I have seen George Couros model how-to processes in several of his presentations. And I remember that–as a member in the audience–seeing George DO the process right there on the spot helped relieve my anxieties and made my unknowns way more transparent. George brought clarity and ease to an otherwise challenging process, and if George could do learning like that, then so could his audience!

I will admit, however, that I was a bit nervous modeling my #hashtag180 process. I mean, I’m supposed to be showing how easy it is, but what if something went wrong? What if I fumbled or the technology didn’t work (at an international edtech conference)?

What if it wasn’t PERFECT?

And yet by this time in the ISTE Conference, I had already experienced several other sessions in which the presenters persevered through major glitches and errors.

And they survived!

It’s true! I saw absolute rockstar educators who I have long-time followed and deeply respected in the twitterverse absolutely botch a slide here, a phrase there, and even had major technology problems throughout.

Immediate humor, coupled with perseverance, flexibility, and being adaptive on the spot was another way to model the learning process in the moment, and they modeled that with professionalism.

And it was okay. Because it was about the learning process–not about the showcase.

Now, I’m thinking how I can transfer this kind of modeling all the more to my students learning experiences as well.

DOING the Learning 

The only feeling better than presenting your own idea or movement at an international conference is seeing others do it and adapt it–right there on the spot AND long after the presentation, and to know that you may have improved learning for kids by helping adults archive, share, and tell.

It’s not enough to sit-and-get in any learning experience. Learners need to DO learning right there on the spot. Our brains deserve it! Besides consuming, learners need to create.

One year from now, I will remember most those learning experiences in which I was actively doing something.

I wonder if this is how our students feel as well?

I was so grateful to connect and learn with all those who experienced my #iste18 #HashtagWithPurpose session! I can’t wait to see what kind of hashtagging systems they create in their own school, district, county, and state, and one day–country… and world. I can’t wait to see how they #hashtag180, as they #hashtagwithpurpose to make teaching and learning better for all.