Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year in Review - No, It's Not a List of Links

The end of 2013 is less than eight hours away as I sit to write this final blog post of the year. My usual week-in-review and month-in-review posts are lists of the most popular posts. This year-in-review will not be like that. Instead, I want to take a few minutes to share the highs and the lows and the lessons I learned in 2013.

Personal highs, lows, and lessons learned
This year I was fortunate to see a lot of the country (U.S. Airways says I flew 156,000 domestic miles) for business and pleasure. Along the way I made new friends in Arizona, re-connected with old friends in Iowa, Colorado, and Nebraska, and made new friends right here in Maine. Lesson learned, one can never have too many friends. Unfortunately, I lost a friend this year too. The lesson there, be open and share.

I had the great opportunity to visit classrooms all over the country this year. I spoke with students from first grade through twelfth grade. I learned something new in each visit, but the most important lesson for me was  that I do miss having my own students on a full-time basis. Department meetings, on the other hand, are not something that I'll ever miss.

Finally, take time read books instead of web articles. Try as I might, I still can't focus on reading books when they're on a tablet because it's too easy to exit out to check Facebook for "just a second." However, I can focus when I have a physical book in my hands.

Blog/Business lessons learned
This year I launched three new projects as off-shoots of Free Technology for Teachers. The first project I launched technically launched in December 2012, but it didn't really get going until 2013. That project is iPadApps4School.com. Since the launch 8,500 people have subscribed. In launching that blog I learned a lot about WordPress and a lot about iOS.

The second project I launched was another that actually started in December 2012 and that is PracticalEdTech.com through which I've offered webinars on Google Drive, blogging, and Google Earth. This was the project I was most nervous about because it was the first time I ever directly offered anything for sale. Some people didn't like that I offered it as a paid product, but I also heard enough positive feedback to continue. The lesson I learned with this project is that there were many more hidden costs and tasks than I anticipated at launch.

The third project I launched this year was the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. Twenty-five of you traveled to beautiful Bethel, Maine for two days of learning with me, Jen Deyenberg, and Jim Wells. Despite one network glitch on the second day, the two days went as well as I hoped. My take-away from the two days, give more time for projects and hands-on learning. I also learned way more about facilities rental costs than I ever thought I'd knew ($250 to rent extension cables for the day, yikes!). A few people have already asked if I will offer the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp again this summer, the answer is yes but I don't have dates to announce at this time.

Looking forward to 2014
I'm looking forward to speaking at more conferences and providing more professional develop workshops in schools. I'm also looking forward to launching a new blog through which I'll offer advice about blogging and consulting (the first month of content is written, the design is the hold up right now). Finally, I'm looking forward to working on my goal of talking to more people at conferences (I'm nervous in small talk situations) beginning with BETT and TeachMeet BETT in January (I tend to get lost walking in cities so if you see me looking confused in London, please help me).