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Debriefing from WEMTA

April 9, 2008

The Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association (WEMTA) conference just wrapped up in Milwaukee yesterday. Interestingly enough, the once Wisconsin Libraries Association later became WEMA, and last year added the “T” to their name.

That said, on at least two occasions, attendees at the conference attempted to remind me that this was a “library conference.”

I find this internal identity struggle interesting – celebrating its 60th anniverserary this year, this organization has shown great resiliancy by adapting and growing. A few years ago when I last attended the conference, there weren’t quite 600 attendees – this year there were about 850!

How great it is to remember who you are, yet change with the times, and be so successful at it.

Is it a perfect match yet? No. As I walked around the sessions, many were very decidedly “librarian-esque” like the CCBC Best Books program. Others were decidedly very geeky – case in point the almost cult-ish following that @iJohnPederson and @DJakes managed to build behind their marathon presenting sessions.

My favorite resource I managed to bring to the table was Adora Svitak through a videoconference. This wonderful 10 year old author drew a room of 80-90 educators. Many of us were Twittering throughout her session, relaying quotes such as “naps are over rated” to the unfortunate who weren’t able to attend the session. But what I liked best about it was pointed out by someone who attended the session – this presentation was spot on for the audience. It addressed both the librarian side, and the technology side.

That said, I do want to give props to iJohn and David – they did an incredible job. The “Cool Tool Duel” was fun to watch live. Nice not to see linear, dry, static PowerPoints – but real world struggles in real time. Best of all – success! (You can do it under pressure!)

Why did David win the duel?

Wasn’t because his tools were so much cooler – but he managed to bring everything together. He took some great tools, and figured out how to run a single theme (the assination of Kennedy) throughout them, and then integrated them into a wiki. On a single page he had quotes and pictures to the site where Kennedy was shot, embedded Google streetview, etc.

He brought the big picture together.

I look back at the training and teaching I’ve been doing. Today I no longer fuss over the details. I spend more time learning concepts than tools – heck, I find new tools every day. For me, its all about communication. Outside of a few key quotes, I don’t remember most of what I’ve heard the past few days word for word.

But I have come away with a positive glow – an aura if you will. Its good to have a big picture.

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