Scholarship Report: Jill Nysse – ITEM Conference 2018

Event:  Information Technology Educators of Minnesota (ITEM) Conference — Alexandria, MN — October 25-27, 2018

Attendee:  Jill Nysse – Library Media Specialist/Instructional Coach – Winona Area Public Schools

How does attending this event relate to your current role in your library?

This year I have changed grade levels and also had Instructional Coach/Technology Integrationist added to my library media position. The Information Technology Educators Conference had so many sessions that related to both the library media specialist and the technology integrationist.  The conference committee always invites a number of authors, and I loved visiting with the authors and enjoyed the author panel during lunch.  I organize a yearly Elementary Author visit, so this was the perfect opportunity gather contacts and ideas for next year.  The professional development this conference offered was some of the best I’ve seen and I found myself wishing there was more time in the day!  The sessions on Google Classroom and Flipgrid were especially good, but I also enjoyed seeing what had been done using WeVideo, as well as a top 10 list of tips and tricks from Google.  The final event on Saturday was an “unconference”.  At an unconference, the participants get to set the agenda and suggest topics that they could either teach or topics that they want to learn more about. This was perfect for me–and yes, I was of course, the learner.

I sincerely thank SELCO for their ongoing commitment to professional development.  It is, without a doubt, the backbone of our profession!  The SELCO workshops I have attended have all been excellent and I am very grateful for the scholarship opportunities SELCO offers.

What was your favorite session you attended and why?

I would have to say the “hands on” sessions with Flipgrid were my favorites.  I use the plural intentionally since the Flipgrid team offered a session on Friday, and during the “unconference” on Saturday, the very first session proposed was on Flipgrid.  In fact, Flipgrid unconference sessions were offered in all three slots, so obviously many people were interested in learning about it.  I had been looking for an easy way to record the voices of kindergartners reading.  Anything we used also had to be free.  Flipgrid was free and was advertised as easy, so it definitely was something worth looking into.  The developer of Flipgrid spoke at the opening keynote session.  I was impressed with his description of Flipgrid as a way to give the students a voice.  It definitely has a use as a platform that creates a community and provides a voice to members of the community.  In my case, I was looking at it in a more utilitarian way.

What was your biggest takeaway from the event as a whole?

My biggest takeaway was that our profession is constantly changing and most of us have had to, or will have to, reinvent ourselves and become advocates for the profession.  It was really frightening to hear that districts continue to eliminate library/media professionals, even in the face of declining reading scores.

What’s one (1) idea that you gained from the event that you plan to implement now that you’re back?

I am interested in trying to use Flipgrid to record voices and then create QR codes of young readers.  I also appreciated some of the ideas, and tips from the Google team in their session.  I know I will be using those right away.

Would you recommend this event to others and why?

I would definitely recommend this to others.  Whether you are a library media specialist or tech integrationist or any of the many titles/jobs that we encompass, belonging to and supporting a professional organization is vitally important.  As incomprehensible as it is to us, many school districts are replacing licensed staff with paras or even eliminating the positions completely.  Our organization speaks to and lobbies for the continuation of professionals in our schools.  The organization needs our support.  The sessions offered at ITEM 2018 were excellent and offered something for everyone.  The opportunity to network with others in the profession is priceless (no humor or reference to the credit card ad intended).  I made two contacts with people from my area that I feel with be invaluable as I transition to this new role.  I should add that there is fun built into the conference with the trivia night (plus prizes!).  Whether you are a book person or a techie–or likely both–this conference has something for everyone.