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Iowa 1:1 institute

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Iowa 1:1 Institute.  For the first time ever, I was surrounded by Iowa educators…and it was awesome.  This was a huge deal for me personally because I grew up in Iowa, yet my entire teaching career has been in Kentucky.   Much like I remembered from growing up in the midwest, Iowa educators are some of the most progressive and creative folks on the planet.  I had many conversations about student engagement, student choice and strategies for transforming teaching and learning.

The first day, which focused on leadership, was Buddy Berry’s presentation on Eminence schools.  Buddy is a local guy here in Kentucky and I have been to his school a few times.  He is a passionate educator that takes crazy, but calculated, risks to further education.  I have worked with some of his teachers and I can say first hand that they live what he preaches.  Check him out on Twitter.  Also check out a few cool folks from his school- Donnie Piercey and Shannon Treece ←- They are awesome.

The actual institute had a very grassroots feel.  These were educators that shared tips on creativity in the classroom, design thinking and maker spaces. Many conferences tout the latest and greatest apps, but this event did not not take that path.  This was one of the most interactive conferences I had been to.  Sit and get sessions were replaced by get up and play sessions.

Boone Leadership Team via @IWasHerky

This was the first time most educators in Iowa had seen Converge, our new learning management system.  I was met by excitement and a high level of interest.  Teachers loved the ease of use, how it looked and functioned, powerful assessments and easy ways for students to stay organized and use Google Docs within Converge.  One of my favorite moments was when I got to meet with the leadership of Boone Community Schools for a Converge work session. The work they are doing left me inspired and I can honestly say they are transforming their school.  I think you will hear a lot about the great things they are doing in the future.  We are honored that they are using Converge to facilitate their teaching and learning and Jill Janes, Kris Byam and Scott Kelley are three amazing leaders you will continue to hear about as they help transform learning in Boone and throughout the state.

Finally, my first trip would not have been complete without mentioning some awesome Google educators and leaders that I got a chance to meet, talk to and learn from.  Erin Olson and Shaelynn Farnsworth were awesome hosts and introduced me to a lot of people.  (I would be leaving some out if I tried to name them all.) I always learn from Scott McLeod and he introduced me to the amazing Jimmy Casas.  My final shoutout is to Eric Van Dorin, a childhood friend and one of the best educators anywhere.  Eric fed me and welcomed me into the Van Dorin household.

In short, here is what I learned at the Iowa 1:1- Nick Sauers puts on a great conference, Iowa educators are awesome, there are still so many schools who need technology help, ConvergeLMS looks to be the perfect vehicle to manage learning in Iowa 1:1 schools.  If you’re looking for a customizable, user friendly solution designed by teachers, contact me or Tiffaney and we’ll be glad to show you Converge.

About The Author

Todd currently serves as the Director of Instructional Design for eTechCampus. With a passion for digital learning, Todd leads the development of eTechCampus’s learning management system, Converge. Todd’s teaching background includes teaching English and computers at the high school level. His passion for the arts led him to start the first Media Arts program in the state of Kentucky and he developed the curriculum for statewide adoption. Todd is also a PhD student at the University of Kentucky’s School Technology Leadership program, which gives him a unique set of skills to work with administrators incorporating digital learning into their schools. Todd has been a frequent presenter at local, state and national edtech conferences. Todd is a Google Certified Teacher and works with schools implementing Google Apps for Education.