I had the privilege of attending TEDxPhillyEd yesterday and I was blown away by what unfolded before my eyes. I've been a live participant in a couple of TEDx events already this year (TEDxManitoba & TEDxJuanDeFuca), so I knew what to expect going into this...
At least I thought I did. The two other TEDx events that I attended were great. The speakers were all world class and I walked away with so many ideas to pick apart. But as I walked away from TEDxPhillyEd yesterday, I couldn't help but think that the experience wasn't just great - it was magical.
Everything about this event was perfect - from the venue and the speakers, to the hosting city and the sponsors. The organizing committee deserves a huge round of applause for crafting their vision for this event and bringing it to fruition :-)
There are so many things that transpired throughout the day that I really can't articulate them all succinctly in a blog post. But there are a few ideas that I'd like to pick apart here that have got me thinking. One of the most significant things that made the day so special for me were the connections.
I connected for the first time in person with a number of the people I'd only ever known virtually. Seeing your network come to life in this way is a very satisfying experience and one that will stick with me for a long time to come.
All of the talks throughout the day were so well connected, from the featured speakers, to the students and the emcees. Everything about the content and format of the day was so well designed. The TED videos that were shown throughout the day were directly connected to speakers who were in the room, which served to complement the live event perfectly.
Even the hospitality area where participants networked during the breaks was connected to the content of the sessions, providing all of us with the opportunity to see, first-hand, the passion for learning that was so clearly articulated throughout the day. I loved how participants even had the opportunity to test out their new Echo Smartpens that were given to each and every one of us by one of the event sponsors - THANKS for your generosity, Livescribe!!!
I'm not going to go into any detail about the individual talks - suffice to say, they were all brilliant. I tweeted incessantly throughout the day about my own take-aways. I tweeted more yesterday than I've ever tweeted before, and I tagged all of my tweets with the hashtag for the event - #tedxphillyed - a hashtag that proved to be used by so many people that it was trending in Philadelphia yesterday...
If you want specifics, you really need to find them for yourself. You can follow the discussions with the hashtag listed above. You'll also want to check the TEDxPhillyEd website for the archived videos - they will all be made available soon and I know that I will be revisiting each and every one of them!
I do, however, have one lingering thought about the day. When asked how many people in the room were Twitter users, I was surprised to see about half of the hands shoot up. And I was also astounded by the sheer number of iPads in the room - clearly tablets are taking over as the device of choice among educators.
But where were all of these people on Twitter? Sure there were a LOT of tweets contributed to the feed, but there were really only about a dozen of us in the room who were using the hashtag to track the conversation. There were also a number of people who were contributing to the dialogue from abroad.
As I looked around at all of the iPads in the room, I noticed that many (most?) users were recording their reflections using Notes. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I think there's SO much more power in sharing our reflections in transparent ways. I know that if I were using Notes to record my thoughts and ideas, they'd live on my iPad and I'd occasionally review them to refresh my memory about what I felt was important at the time. Nobody else would benefit from me capturing these highlights in this way :-(
When an idea resonated with me, I tweeted about it. On many occasions, other people retweeted my tweets to show consensus. Several times throughout the day, I engaged in side conversations surrounding these topics with different people in different places. I thought much more deeply about the content as a result of the continuing conversations.
The whole idea behind any TEDx event is to make a difference. To bring together a group of like-minded individuals and push them to think about the things that matter. TEDx is all about spreading ideas and information - to encourage people to create and innovate.
Moving beyond TEDxPhillyEd, all of us have a responsibility to keep the message alive. By attending this event, we've all made an informal commitment to spread the word within our own learning communities. How do you plan to keep the message alive? How will you share your own take-aways from this event? How will you make a difference?